Every year I try my best to declutter my spaces, may it be at home or in the office. I see to it that I have enough area for “new things” and energy to come in. This year I feel I’m doing it differently. I’ve mentioned previously that I’m hooked on the KonMari method of tidying up, for the most part because of the now-popular Netflix show, Tidying Up With Marie Kondo.
A friend of mine argues that the show is getting popularity, but does not necessarily answer as to what will happen to collectors and people who are obsessed with history. However, I can argue that the show, or the KonMari method for that matter, does not impose the habit of throwing things away, of giving up history. On the contrary, it talks about saving things that “spark joy” for us - things that still have meaning that we want to bring them with us moving forward. Things that we actually use and are essential for us to live our lives the way we want to.
In one episode, a guy had difficulty deciding whether he’ll give up on a mail box because it reminds him of the challenges his parents were able to conquer when they moved to America. After talking to Marie, he then realized that although this particular mail box reminds him of that, he still has other things that make him persevere in life and proud of his parents. He also had an existing mail box in front of their property that does the job for them.
To put it simply, we do not really need to hold on to all material things in order to be happy, to be proud of our heritage, and to be hopeful of what is to come. It’s not just a question of whether we need or want things, but also a question of are we giving justice to its existence.
Since I haven’t read the books, and friends who had gone through them say they contain more insights, I’ve decided to read some articles about KonMari.
Books is the category where most people would normally raise eyebrows on the practice. They feel Marie is asking them to purge important literature they’ve treasured dearly. On the other hand, I think Marie only wants us to be organized on how we keep these vessels of knowledge. I think books are meant to be read, to be shared so that the knowledge they hold can be appreciated not just by whoever owns them, but by more people and generations to come. If they’ve been kept so hard for so long in boxes and piles we’ve nearly forgotten, are we really giving the writers enough pride and justice? I feel guilty about this because being raised in a family who keeps everything, I mean everything, we learned at a young age that books are important. And in my recent tidying up, I was saddened that old books, documents and magazines, instead of seeing a new light when our niece and nephew can finally love them, were destroyed by pests. Only because we’ve kept them along with other memories we barely check on to.
Having said that, the only thing that I do not agree on with Marie's method is the use of boxes. We use a lot of old packaging and living in an old wooden house has its perks – more light, high ceilings, you feel like it's roomy enough to allow air balance the temperature of the spaces - but it also has its challenges. One of which is having to face termites, and oh they love old packaging so much, especially corrugated boxes that they were able to devour books and documents in our home. Good thing that vacuum cleaners and storage cases were invented, plus a solid mix of sea salt and water can dry termites out. One can say that we just didn’t kept those books well. However is it really about creating storage to keep more things? I think tidying up is about keeping the essentials, giving value to your possessions, and not about making sure that the visible spaces are neat because we’ve hidden our stuff in unused rooms or cabinets or worse, our parents house.
We should not only give value to our things and our spaces. More importantly, we should value the people living in those spaces. Are we allowing them to live the life they want, or are we passing on the burden of carrying our history of maybes? Maybe one day we’ll use the old grill. Maybe we’ll have time to read this article we photocopied in college. Maybe we’ll fit in the shirt our aunt gave us.
I love paper so much that I have an overflowing stock of receipts, letters, and what not. I thought that one day I will be able to put up a scrap book or folders to review, but with this experience, I also understood that sometimes we hold so much on to the past that we hinder ourselves from the present and the future. There are other things and people to remind me of my experiences. More so interact and give new meaning to those memories with people I hold dear. I don’t need to keep all my notes to love my family and friends more. I can be with them more so that I can express and grow that love.
While cleaning up cabinets, I also found a ton of mugs that were gifted to us. Let’s be real. We’re never going to use them so why keep them? We are thankful that our loved ones and coworkers give us things, but in tidying up, you can also discover how generous you can become. There’s so much to give and share that we do not need to hold on to things because of gratitude. We can express gratitude by passing on the good that we received. Fostering that value when others, too, learn to share because of gratitude.
On a similar note, I think we should also KonMari our relationships. Review them and see if our relationships do bring us joy, or are we holding on to them because of the history and what ifs, only to realize that we already lost ourselves in the process. That we are hurting each other and we live our days with regret. By keeping relationships that spark joy, we can learn to heal the wounds of the past, appreciative the present, and be hopeful of the future. We can create a better environment where healthier relationships can thrive.
I understand that KonMari may not work for everyone, and it is not a law to abide to. I also knew that by tidying up my spaces, I am able to live better, but I never knew that by doing so and with such basic concept, I can also learn so much about myself and the people around me. What I really hope for is that we all look into our lives, and be able to harness what brings us joy amidst the clutter and mess.
Happy weekend, everyone. Happy tidying.
Stay inspired and later days.
Niguel is an experienced creative and marketing professional pursuing his dreams while growing with infinite possibilities.