“What is the perfect amount of possessions? I think that most people don’t know. If you have lived in Japan or the United States all your life, you have almost certainly been surrounded by far more than you need. This makes it hard for many people to imagine how much they need to live comfortably. As you reduce your belongings through the process of tidying, you will come to a point where you suddenly know how much is just right for you” (Kondo 124).
Does anyone really need a book to learn how to tidy? Obviously the success of her book is an emphatic yes. Many readers might balk at the suggestions to rid ourselves of things we think we just cannot live without. A few years ago I decided to clean my house. I have been a collector of many things through the years but came to a point when my collections of things did not make me happy and the drawers were filled with unused items. ‘Things’ were cluttering my life. Friends were amazed at my empty basement and spartan rooms after I finished. “How did you do it?” they asked.
These same friends and I had annual yard sales; sometimes the same items were put out year after year. There were those things that just seemed too valuable to donate, while other things were quite easy to discard. My downsizing had led to my DVD collection. I remembered reading a book about the film critic, Pauline Kael, who reportedly never watched a movie twice. I thought about my collection and realized that there were very few of those movies that I watched after I bought them. I sent my kids the list of my collection and told them to pick what they wanted. I sold some on Amazon and Craigslist. The boxes of alphabetized movies were hauled to the annual yard sales until finally a last-minute shopper offered me a price for the lot. Sold!
I have hundreds of books that will be hard to part with now. Kondo gave the best advice about books when she wrote, “The moment you first encounter a particular book is the right time to read it” (95). I have stacks of books on my mantel that I bought in the last year and that are still waiting for me to turn the pages. I have thousands of digital photos that must be sorted and uploaded to storage. During the last house-cleaning, I digitized all those old family slides and photos from school and vacations and weddings, but I kept just a few of those hard copies of memories. Books and photos will be the hardest things for me to tidy up.
I bought the life-changing magic of tidying up for my daughter. She needs it. She and my grandson moved in with us in November while she finishes college. The addition of her clothes to my closet rod brought it to the breaking point. As it bowed and broke, the clothes fell into a pile on the floor. This was the message that we had too much. I began sorting and packed up five or six bags of my clothes to donate. My daughter’s clothes are still waiting for the sort and discard.
“The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life” (Kondo 182).
Kondo, Marie. the life-changing magic of tidying up. Berkeley: Ten Speed Press, 2014. Print.