There’s something about Marie Kondo’s joy-sparking-tidying-up success that irks me.
Maybe it’s that she’s making a fortune as a Tidying Coach, a job that didn’t exist when I was younger. I might’ve embraced it, if it had, given my childhood tidying tendencies.
Maybe it’s because tidying up seems like something we should’ve learned along the hallways of life. Ok, maybe not joyfully, but still. Some adult in our life should’ve set some tidying standard for us to live up to so we could learn our tidying skills along the way.
Or maybe her approach reminds me of ambivalence around my own stuff. Given a society that encourages getting ever more, acquiring is supposed to be good. And yet, have you ever felt confused overwhelm as stuff stacks up in closets, cupboards and garages? If buying stuff is supposed to feel good, why does being surrounded by all our stuff sometimes feel like crap?
Sometimes I think we like to buy more than necessarily own, but that’s just me.
When Kondo’s Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up book came out in 2011, the desire to declutter and organize wasn’t a new idea. There are bookshelves full on the subject, published over decades. Given that the theme and suggested solutions survive and thrive, I imagine we hope there’s a magic-bean solution to dealing with our stuff. We’re sure the next idea will be the path to the promised land.
Kondo’s book was the next idea. It hit at the perfect storm of opportunity: boomers getting older—facing their own and aging parents’ stuff—while simultaneously realizing their kids don’t want multiple-generations of accumulated stuff. Now what.
Now what is Marie Kondo: diminutive, cute, Japanese-speaking with an element of the exotic. She offers magic and joy and life changing results. How could we not fall in love this new idea? We are sure—absolutely positive—that this system—this approach from another culture, imbued with an eastern religion promise—will solve our clutter and disorganization problems.
It could become our new faith.
And it’s easy, too, right? We love easy. Ask the question: “does this spark joy?” Yes? It stays, No? It goes.
After we spend half a lifetime acquiring stuff, Marie Kondo promises to help us get rid of it. Not only easily and without feeling guilty, but—hallelujah—with joy! We can be redeemed from our sins of overconsumption. We can continue to enjoy acquiring stuff, knowing Kondo will help us enjoy getting rid of it.
No wonder she irks western-religion-raised me. Where’s the guilt in that?