The two of us basically share a brain when it comes to this blog, and we are one hundred percent united on all the important issues in life, love, and dating: safe sex, orgasms for everyone, the superiority of flat-front pants, etc. But every now and then we have to resort to the first-person singular for a post — not necessarily because we disagree, but because one of us has a particular interest that the other just doesn’t quite get. Which is why today’s installment, about the joy of tidying up, comes from Em. Lo can certainly appreciate a tidy, well-organized house, but for her, there’s no joy in this process. Em, on the other hand…
For people like me — i.e. people who relish the idea of spending an entire weekend organizing their house — the arrival of Marie Kondo’s new book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, was kind of like hearing about a brand new religion… one that promises eternal life and free ice cream. The book, which is a massive bestseller in Kondo’s native Japan (where she’s a bona fide celebrity) as well as throughout Europe, and is fast becoming one in the U.S., takes an approach to home organization that is both drastic and zen. Also, kind of quirky. (How often have you thanked your socks for the hard work they do?!)
The basic gist of the KonMari Method is this: If you try to organize everything you currently own, you will fail, time and time again. Instead, you have to purge and then organize. And when purging, you should get rid of any object in your house that fails to “spark joy.” Oh yeah, and you’re supposed to thank these objects for the service they provided you before finding them a new home, too! (The Salvation Army, a friend, the trash, whatever.) The moment I heard about this philosophy, I knew I had my resolution for 2015: Purge my house of all items that fail to bring me joy. All sweaters that itch, all spoons that are both too big and too small, all paperwork, all superfluous kitchen equipment.
This is probably too drastic for most people, but while contemplating my year of purging ahead (with, yes, glee), it occurred to me that Kondo’s approach would be an excellent way to move on from an ex. She has an evangelical fervor when she talks about the benefits of the KonMari Method. Her clients, she claims, experience life-changing benefits from a de-cluttered, well-organized house: They start businesses, they divorce neglectful spouses, they lose weight, they reconnect with partners, they get promotions. As Kondo writes, “When you put your house in order, you put your affairs and your past in order, too. As a result, you can see quite clearly what you need in life and what you don’t, and what you should and shouldn’t do. … Not only will you never be messy again, but you’ll also get a new start on life.” Which sounds like an excellent post-breakup remedy to me.
So if you’re stuck in a post-breakup rut and finding yourself unable to move on, start with The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Go through your clothes, your books, your makeup, your apocalyptic stock of Q-tips, your photographs, your tchotchkes, your office supplies, your kitchen equipment. “Joy” may be a strong emotion to apply to these objects when you’re in a depressive funk, so here’s a better way of thinking about it in your state of mind: Discard anything that makes you feel even worse. Especially anything that reminds you of your ex. And for those items that remind you of your ex, go ahead and get quirky, Kondo-style: Thank these objects for how they served you during your relationship, and then let them go. Optional soundtrack: Idina Menzel belting out “Let It Go.” (According to this Times writer, Lucinda Williams or George Jones may also work.) Hint: Kondo says you can’t simply assess objects as a group, i.e. “All my clothes/books/tools bring me joy.” No, you have to assess each item individually. This slow, methodical process will be therapeutic in and of itself, you’ll find.
Once you have reduced the contents of your home to only those objects that don’t depress you further, organize the shit out of them. Learn to fold a shirt using the KonMari method. Don’t stack anything in drawers: Every item in a drawer should be visible when you open it. Hang clothes by color. Don’t force books onto a shelf, damaging their spines; purge until there is open space on your shelves. This way, you are open to new acquisitions that will bring you joy.
And yes, that’s a metaphor for your love life.