Saturday, June 13, 2015

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese art of decluttering and organizing

This is a very interesting book by professional organizer, Marie Kondo. Organization is always interesting to me, and I've read a lot of books like this. This one made a much bigger impression on me than the others, though. I've never read a book so anti-possession in my life. Marie's fundamental argument is that if an object does not bring you a "spark of joy" when you hold it and look at it, you should get rid of it, the goal being to only have objects in your house that bring you joy. This is a real challenge for me. I LOVE objects. I love objects that are magical, I love collections of objects, I love objects that might come in handy. As Edison said, "To invent, you need a good imagination, and a pile of junk." I love those moments when some weird object is needed, and I can go dig in a drawer or closet and produce it. As a result, I have a lot of junk. Examples of things I have that I probably shouldn't:
  • Nine different game consoles
  • Two large boxes of old cables
  • Hundreds of DVD boxes (the dvds are stored in compact albums)
  • Hundreds of unread books
  • Old juggling props I'll likely never use again
  • Dozens of board games I'll probably never play
One thing Marie hints at is that people who live in the present need very few objects. Those of us who live in the past (I remember when this was useful) or the future (I can imagine myself enjoying this one day) tend to accumulate a lot of junk. For the truth is that just because you enjoyed something in the past doesn't mean you can enjoy it now, or ever again. The moment someone gave you that pretty bowl was nice, and you can imagine that one day you'll make a place for it, and keep flowers in it, but those are past and future. Right now, it is in a box in a closet, and there it will likely stay. I can't help but seen the connection between zazen (living in the present) and the philosophies of this book (appropriately, I bought this book on the kindle). Books are the toughest one for me. Marie argues that when you get a book, if you haven't read it within a month, you will likely never read it, and I have to agree, that is often true. My bedside has about fifteen books that I began, but stalled out, and I keep telling myself I'll get back to... but probably I never will. This blog has been a help -- I feel better about getting rid of unread books if I speed-read them, and make some notes. But even that is a lot of work. I'm sorely tempted to start clearing house when I get home. Marie's method is very clear -- you must hold each object in your hands, and ask if it sparks joy. I wonder how it will go? Zazen really changes things. Wish me luck!


  1. Good luck!

    A few years ago, I spent a year getting rid of 3 things per day. I took a picture of the 3 things each day to help dull the sting. In the end, not only did I get rid of a lot of stuff I didn't need, I found it also really changed my approach to buying or accepting new things. My standards are much higher now.

  2. It took me about a week to read it, but that's because I only stole snippets of reading time here and there. It's a quick and easy read. japanese magic method