Recently my pastor posted a photo of his overflowing office bookshelves on Facebook. “Marie Kondo has no clue.”
The person he was referring to is the queen of neat. Kondo’s best-selling book is subtitled, “The life-changing magic of tidying-up,” and it has been a worldwide best-selling guide for those who want to be better organized.
Kondo’s de-junking test sounds simple. Consider an object you own. If it doesn’t spark joy, toss it out, re-gift it or donate it to charity, but above all, get it out of your life. Ideally you should own no more than 30 books, she says. Surely she can’t be thinking of pastors or professors or writers like me. I’m thinking more like 30 books per shelf instead of the entire house.
Kondo hails from Japan, a relatively uncluttered culture. She grew up living with a lot of people in a small island. That may explain her approach. Still I know that Kondo’s method is appealing. Who among us isn’t intrigued by magic or having our life changed? Well, OK, maybe the magic part sounds good.
You will feel a pulse in your body, sometimes big, sometimes not so big, Kondo says. The feeling will be different for each item, but in some way your body will let you know. If you feel nothing, then you have your answer, she says.
OK, I don’t get trembly about ink pens swiped from conferences and hotels. Even if they’re from exotic places, they become less joyful when they stop writing.
Little hotel soaps don’t do much for me, either. I’ve heard that homeless shelters can use them. Reuse, recycle, repurpose.
A friend in Texas recently made a suggestion for Lent: throw out one thing from your closet for 40 days. I messaged back, why not 10 per day? That’s basically all I really use anyway. Ten pieces of clothing.
Pilled acrylic sweaters don’t bring me any more joy than the pair of green slacks that never did fit correctly. The short zipper should have shouted “Don’t buy me,” but the voice wasn’t loud enough. I thought I’d feel great with a dropped-waist pair of slacks. Besides, they were on sale and the fabric had “give.” In hindsight (and I do mean hind sight) these green slacks give new meaning to the term “muffin top “How about bread loaf? Yes, these slacks have to go.
Speaking of clothes, I have a few of those hangers-on the hangers that are sentimental: a commencement robe, some skirts that fit OK last year, red top I bought in Mexico that looked better in Manzanillo than it ever will in Catawba County.
An there’s that pair of white pumps I could wear if I go rogue and break my own fashion rule about white shoes: namely, don’t wear them. White shoes make my feet look gigantic. But I won’t likely ever wear white dress shoes even if it is after Memorial Day and before Labor Day.
And then there are the loose tops that have oversized necklines that shift around and make me look like Jennifer Beals in Flashdance. Flattering for Jennifer, not me.
Unused belts hang and curl like stretched serpents. Are thin belts in or out? I can’t remember. What about cotton or linen things that have to the ironed, for heaven’s sake?
And oh, the gloves! I could start a dating service with my spare gloves that have been widowed every winter. Pity those spare gloves can’t be paired with the single earrings. Send them on their way. That would make Marie Kondo proud.
My jewelry box contains costume mixed in with the good stuff. Is that allowed? Maybe those should be separated. I should isolate earrings that have languished alone and mateless for years.
Let’s not even look into the pantry. One shelf has more flower vases than a florist shop. And I wind up using mason jars because the mess on the shelf is too, cluttered to see what I’ve got. Yes, I need to get serious about the pantry.
But we do have books all over the house. The books have multiplied since we moved to a bigger house, only to learn one cardinal rule: stuff fits the space allotted, which brings me back to Marie Kondo and her rule about books. Thirty wouldn’t even cover the children’s books I have from my own childhood, much less our son’s. Nor the signed copies, collections from favorite authors, books I’m keeping for in case I ever run out of something to read. Books are friends. Maybe I can re-gift some… except the ones I want to keep, which is at least 500.
If pastors are exempt from the book rule, so are writers. My shelves shall continue to runneth over and I shall be joyful in the abundance.
Take that, Marie Kondo.