I’m not very trendy at the best of times. I’ve never been a massive fan of popular music, for example, or dressing according to what’s currently fashionable. I have no idea about homewares and nothing much that I own matches. I don’t know which wines are in vogue and I’m not entirely sure why we have evolved into a race that insists on dinner being “deconstructed” and/or served on wooden chopping boards.I’m really not very good at trendy stuff in general. There’s one particular trend that I keep reading about and shuddering. Each time I read these three words I’m filled with a strange mixture of dread, defiance and a strange sense of guilt. Those three words?
The KonMari Method.
The KonMari Method is a lifestyle trend that’s all about throwing stuff out. It’s centred around a book by Marie Kondo called “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” which definitely makes spring cleaning sound far more exotic than usual. People have been going crazy for it and the blogosphere and social media are full of beautifully organised drawers and cupboards within clutter-free homes.
The basic premise is that you should only keep things which “spark joy” when you touch them. You are supposed to assess all your stuff by this benchmark and if the item in question doesn’t make you happy, it doesn’t belong in your home. In theory, you’ll ditch half your wardrobe, your books and the contents of your bathroom. You should also fold everything, including socks, a certain way and stack your stuff vertically in drawers so that you can see what everything is when you open it. Oh, and when you decide to purge an item, you’re supposed to thank it for a job well done and tell them to have a nice rest. Like, verbally. I’m not sure how many devotees go that far but I won’t be audibly thanking my old stuff any time soon.
The KonMari Dread.
I know minimalist is the new black, but it’s really not a look that goes hand in hand with a family of six people. We all pitch in when it comes to housework, for the sake of basic hygiene, but mass clean-outs aren’t really our thing. I hate dredging through all the things to decide what stays and what goes. It’s easy enough when it’s clothes and things that aren’t mine. I can be ruthless in that scenario. But my clothes? My stuff? Not so much. I may lose heaps of weight and want to wear that dress I bought 11 years ago that didn’t suit me then and doesn’t fit me now. It’s not just my clothing. What if I ditch something that I later need? I’ve done that before and, as a certified tight-arse, I really resented paying for something that I needed that I used to own.
The other part aspect of KonMari that fills me with dread is that I’m supposed to do it all on my own- without help or consultation with my partner or kids. This seems distinctly unfair to me. Surely each member of the household she be responsible for their own KonMari-ing?
The KonMari Guilt.
KonMari devotees get rid of items that don’t make them happy and that they don’t need. I have no doubt about the fact that I don’t need all the utensils in my kitchen, for example, nor do they all “spark joy” in me. In my utensil drawer, I have a potato ricer. I like it well enough, but it doesn’t fill me with joy. I don’t use it all that often and I’m not entirely sure why I have it. Should I give it to charity so that someone less fortunate can possibly find joy in ricing their potatoes? Doesn’t that seem condescending? Why am I feeling guilty over owning a potato ricer?
Because that’s the trend; owning less is virtuous, owning less will make you happier, owning less is better. If you don’t want to own less, you’re basically doomed to a life of being a miserable sod.
The KonMari Defiance.
The thing is, I don’t actually want to live in an empty, minimalist house.
I want a house that is lived in. I want my couple of junk drawers and my photos everywhere and the surprise of finding things I’d all but forgotten about. Nothing matches in my home, but lots of our bits and pieces have stories. My dining table is a big wooden table that belonged to my parents. My cupboard full of photo albums belonged to my mother. There is a small shelving unit that my grandfather made. The first ever piece of furniture that I bought myself, an old dressing table from an op-shop, sits in my step-daughter’s bedroom covered with teenager stuff. I like having these things, but it they don’t all leave me deliriously happy, either. Which brings me to my next point…
Not Everything I Own “Sparks Joy” And I’m Okay With That.
The idea that everything we own should induce feelings of happiness or joy is unrealistic. How can everything a person owns do this? Who is finding genuine joy in their toothbrush or tweezers? Who is awash with happiness at the sight of their kitchen bin? Expecting everything you own to make you feel happy sounds like a one way ticket to Disappointmentville. Some things that I own that have happy associations, for sure. There are others, such as those that belonged to loved ones who have passed away, that might leave me feeling sad if I really dwell on them. But I generally don’t, because my emotions aren’t really all that wrapped up in my material possessions, which I believe is a good thing.
I can see why KonMari appeals to some people and even how one could use parts of it to make positive changes- but it’s just not a trend I can really embrace. I freely admit that I don’t actually care if my wardrobe reveals very little space between hangers or if I have to dig around in a drawer to find the tee shirt I want. I’m not fussed by having a whole heap of books on my shelves or next to my bed. I don’t care if inanimate objects don’t fill me with happiness because I don’t expect them to. And I kind of resent the implication that I should.
#IBOT @ Essentially Jess.