12:12:14 the life-changing magic of tidying up, a book review

For me, Marie Kondo's the life-changing magic of tidying up: the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing is one of those serendipitous books where words leap off the page and become part of your life. That is, Ms. Kondo makes good on her promise decluttering and organizing possessions will change one's life.

"Tidying up," by Ms. Kondo's approach, begins with discarding. The triage of what, then, to keep follows a well-thought out system to categorize one's possessions.

[book cover]

The first category is clothing.

Following her advice, I went to all rooms and closets in my house and collected clothes (ignoring the ones I wore, of course). I tossed everything on the floor of one room. From that heap, I picked each item up and using Ms. Kondo's decision rule, I asked myself, Does this give me joy?

That's it.

You ask one question and if the answer is yes, you keep it. Otherwise, it's bound for charity or, for those jeans with knee holes, the dustbin.

I rid myself of thirty-eight pieces of clothing by this quick--somewhat elegant--take-no-prisoners method.

What remains are clothes I like. But each "keeper" needs to be assigned its individual resting place when it's not being worn. No pile of socks, no stacks of pants, no heaps of shirts.

The benefits were immediate. I no longer look at my shirts and wonder, I haven't worn that in a while, so why did I buy that? Should I wear it today and get some use out of it? No, now I look at my shirts and know they're all winners and I like wearing all of them.

The next category in Kondo's system is books and that's a tough one. But with clothing behind me, I'm ready to take it on.

What I think Ms. Kondo gives us in this engaging approach to simplifying and cutting back one's possessions is permission. She articulates defensible reasons to simply let go of energy-sapping detrius long in the acquisition. (And I won't even start in on the stuff some consider sacred and for life: shoes or, for others, books).

Yes, decluttering can be an encounter with one's past. I had some of those feelings discarding so many clothes. But there's a lot more to Ms. Kondo's system for tidying up.

I would emphasize Kondo's the life-changing magic of tidying up is a unified vision of how our possessions can be kept in harmony with our present and our willingness to go forward, and less about memories from our past--the province of hoarders, I'm sure. It seems a healthier approach to living life in the material world. We might as well be tidy!

the life-changing magic of tidying up: the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing by Marie Kondo, Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, 2014, 214 pp., ISBN: 978-1-60774-730-7.


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The Cat at Light's End

Read Charlie Dickinson's story collection, The Cat at Light's End, as an ebook in these downloadable formats:

.mobi (Kindle)
.epub (most other readers)
.pdf (for PCs)

Also, a flash fiction, "Ylena Thinks Nyet," is at Cigale Literary Magazine.



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