Solving the problem of having too much stuff by getting rid of the stuff makes sense to my practical nature. The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up is freeing for Americans because it comes at the problem of too much stuff with the simple question “Does this item spark joy?” The conventional US approach is to treat our clutter and consumption like it is an algebra problem- to which most people will reply “but I’m no good at math!” Marie Kondo’s book shows there is another way to reorganize your life that does not require a spreadsheet, diet, new storage system, new home or any other knowledge that you don’t currently possess. You simply and quietly ask yourself whether an item thrills you. If not, out it goes.
There are currently 1018 people waiting to read this short ebook at my library. It took me a few hours to read while riding the train. New Yorkers may especially identify with the Japanese lack of personal space- many of Kondo’s clients are working with a single room. If you are a typical voyeur like me you can go on Youtube and watch women with five bedroom homes go through all their possessions this way. It is disorienting and revealing- I did not know that many collect $1000 purses, but apparently that is something women do and then spend hours of their time organizing them. It appears that many of us have been very carefully trained to focus on our appearance and our possessions and our fortress homes.
I have worried that the antidotes to this lifestyle can carry the same poison. If you are obsessed with, say, wearing the same dress every day for a year and still looking cute, your energy is still very focussed on your appearance. If you test your purse collection for Joy and find that it sings in your heart, the underlying forces are unexamined and you will still spend most of your free time curating stuff. Kondo’s method intends to gently turn her client’s attention to their other feelings that they can resolve once their space is orderly. It’s a good strategy, especially for women who tend to be so cruel to themselves around their appearances and responsibilities.