Wednesday, July 13, 2016

KonMari - Does this blog make me look preachy?

We have too much stuff.


Here is a general statement - we retain a lot of stuff we don't need. Our capitalistic culture wants us to keep buying more stuff. Our culture wants us to keep up with the Jones, to memorialize moments in sourviers, to buy storage solutions for our things, maybe hold grudges and emotional baggage of guilt associated with gifts and hand-me-downs. We keep to preserve but to also avoid loss.

Last night after reading a really hysterical piece of satire about the influx of the KonMari and minimalism into our culture, I started to feel bad that I was step-by-step processing my belongings in this method and it was a bit...gross.

I had that same reservation when I took my first photo for this segment of the blog - my entire wardrobe on my bed.

Can you imagine I looked at this, at one time thankful for the bounty that allowed me all these clothes, but also horrified at my own horde. "Oh, poor me. I have too much stuff and I can't manage it all like a normal person. Waaaahhh." Boo frickin Hoo.

But that is just it, isn't it. What is normal? I am striving for my normal, who gives a crap about anything more than this. Right now I can tell you that up until this process of discarding the weight, I felt like my home was too much work, too cluttered, and stressful. Inventory has helped me take stock of the emotional value and actual value of keeping everything I purchase.

I want to keep what I love, in Kondo's words, what sparks joy.

I grew up barely middle-class with divorced parents and they taught me not to waste perfectly good things. Somewhere along that path I lost sight of how to manage it all and what "good" really meant. You, dear reader, get to watch me figure it out.


I have followed minimalism websites like The Minimalists, which is about people seeking value from their lives beyond the constant consumerism and rat-race. Sure there are plenty of  people who live with less than 100 belongings total, some with less than 60! These people are wandering mystics to me. I have read these:

Leo Babauta’s Description of Minimalism
Joshua Becker’s Benefits of Minimalism
Colin Wright’s Minimalism Explained
And in all, I respect people who step back from getting caught up in "stuff". I really love to see how people pare down their wardrobes into outfits of good standards and own solid and well-made pieces of classic clothing. It is as if these people have really figured out adulting and only spend money on experiences and things that last. 
That satire had me thinking - do I really come across as the level of gross and crazy in this blog? I argue no, because I am consciously questioning how crazy Kondo seems in the fanaticism with which she purges (talking to and thanking each thing you discard for it's service? Yeah, she is over-the-top). But if I do sound crazy, fuck it. 
You're the one reading this crap. I's trying to be honest in case someone out there feels like they are alone in their secret drawer-and-closet-horde of stuff.
This discarding process provides me structure to do what some people probably already do - keep neat and well-organized spaces. Also, it helps me toss things I hold because "I can maybe use it" (but have never used it). 
Let's take those shoes for example. None of the shoes in this picture is newer than one year old, aside from the graduation shoes I crafted.

Even the shoes in the box were purchased a year ago, as were the red sparkly flats that are too big but were a steal, I only have one set of feet. The oldest pair is probably the brown Vibram Classics, at 10 years old. Then are the brown Frye boots, 8 years old. But here are the whole amount of shoes, I as an American, used to own. 

The number of toe-shoes is where I depart from most people, but for me, the problem is I hold onto things far past their use and style. I'll bet most of my girlfriends have more heels than I do, or more flip-flops....everyone has their thing. The point is when you put it all together, the sum total is more than you need and you can see the flaws in individual pieces that you overlook when things are spread out.

I've half this amount now.  Kondo gave me permission to let go of 10 year old shoes that are not in good condition, that I have not worn in 2 years, and those that are never the pair I grab. I am rational. I am emotional. I needed outside perspective.

I am not going to discard everything I own and live in a temple. But, I gotta say that it is far nicer now to live in my bedroom with the right amount of clothing and shoes for me. I like that I can close drawers and doors now. 

I'm not looking to go full-guru here. Hell, I don't mind if anyone reads this or not. This is working to make me less stressed by the things I have held tight to for longer than I should have.

Honestly, I hate that I find it difficult to toss things. If I didn't use something until it broke (and even then I would glue/sew/up-cycle it), I felt I had to keep it. It can be used, so I keep it. It doesn't look that bad, so I keep it. I never use it, but I keep it. It all amounts to padding a life with things that take time to manage. I want to give my time/energy/money/creativity/heart to other pursuits. 

Minimalism at its core can best be summed up by The Minimalists: Minimalism is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important—so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.

I want to share my journey here so that it is concrete (in my mind). So far Kondo has helped me:
  • find clarity
  • discard without guilt
  • focus on my creativity and not constantly finding storage solutions
  • take a real look at the number of similar items I actually have
  • focus on what I love
  • realize the space I live in is totally my making
  • really see what I have disregarded while "too busy"
  • get my adult life together
I am done with the first two categories and must move on to paper tomorrow. If you are reading this, do you think it is wrong to share the process? Do you also find yourself torn between loving your things and feeling burdened by them?

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