Marie Kondo’s Netflix show on the transformational effect of tidying up has blown up. I’ve heard NPR shows about the effects of the decluttering craze (a thrift store bonanza), seen countless posts online about goals for emptying out closets and garages, and heard pushback about some of her advice (especially about books). Full disclosure: I haven’t seen the show, but I have read a couple of her books.
Spark joy. This is how we are to decide what objects to keep. I like the notion, even the woo-woo aspect of talking to an inanimate object that can’t actually speak back.
Do you bring me joy? I asked the ashtray I bought at a garage sale ten years ago. I don’t smoke or even have smoking in my home. This ashtray has a gun on it and says that it was the type of pistol that killed President Lincoln. I have never held a gun, much less shot one. I abhor gun violence but this ashtray amuses me. Of course I kept it!
But is amusement joy? This is where the whole process gets murky for me. What is less murky is flipping the question on its head. I ask myself the flipped question in all sorts of situations, not just in clearing out the clutter. I ask – does this spark dread?
Maybe joy is too high of a bar for me – unbridled laughter, pastel balloons, happy tears. Moving away from the feeling of dread feels more accessible. I let the phone ring go to voice mail, I don’t sign up for the parent volunteer opportunity, I ask for help with a task that overwhelms me. Of course we all have things we prefer not to do, that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about not initiating or agreeing to take part in something that fills me with dread.
To know what sparks dread (or joy) is to know yourself. When I take the time to be intentional about what rings my bell or drags me down, my days are better. Better days make for a better life. May we all continue toward better days.
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Your comment about speaking to inanimate objects cracked me up because I do this every day when I pull into the garage. I have an old Toro lawnmower that I restored and I greet it by saying “Hello, Toro” whenever I see its shiny red paint.
I talk to objects all the time! But they don’t always get names… 🙂
Joy may be too strong, and the opposite, agony, probably is too strong of an antonym. A lot falls on a scale leaning one way or the other. Think that article of clothing that no longer fits, but you love(d) it. Now all it really does is remind you of the weight you have put on and won’t seem to come off. Books are tough. We donated all of our books to the library that is going into the retirement home tat Mitzi’s mom is moving to.
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I agree about the clothes, especially if they don’t fit. I have kept a leather jacket from my early 20s that, although it fits, I haven’t worn in over 20 years. I just like having it. 🙂
I’ve become more ruthless with my books – it makes room for more!