A few months ago, right after we moved in, a friend who edits at Ten Speed Press gave me a copy of this book she edited recently. It’s by a Japanese woman who specializes in guiding people into organizing their homes and freeing themselves of attachment to their possessions — it’s a fascinating approach to materiality in the world! Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up flew off the shelves and changed how people saw their homes, their wardrobes, their possessions, etc. The online alumnae groups I am a part of were full of raves and praise for how this book helped them get rid of things they were attached to, but had no real reason to keep.
But, as you can see from this little pic (which is actually my desk at work, which is also messy), I… am not a tidy person. I like to have everything in the open, where I can find it by sight. I actually prefer a slightly messy space over a tidy, spare one. I also value my sentimental attachment to things, particularly clothes and books, which make up the majority of my possessions. I want to have physical reminders of those memories, and to keep t-shirts from college even if I never wear them, for instance.
Partially, that’s because I have a piss poor memory, and need clear triggers to recall those events. But it’s also about the sensory experience of feeling the past in the present. I have no interested in letting go of the past — I treasure it! I want to hold onto every scrap of history I can find.
But my husband and I have been enjoying reading the Kondo book in bed every couple nights, and we get a huge kick out of how seriously she takes her job. And I do intend to apply it to items I don’t have sentimental attachments to — but almost every item I have was either a gift or bought for a specific reason, so we’ll see if I can do it.
While I do value the chance to read about a different perspective on how one makes a home, I want our home not to be a slim, spare, tidy one, but one full of largess, plethora, and copia. I love towers of books in addition to my neatly organized bookshelves. I love the overflow of magazines stuffed into a drawer, or the need to build a basement because you don’t want to give up all the useless things that represent your past.
Still, that sweater I got for Christmas that I never wear and don’t like — I can value the thoughtful generosity behind the gift while also ushering that item out to a new, more appreciative home.