Oh, Marie Kondo, you crafty girl.
You prodded us from behind your impossibly long eyelashes and we obeyed, decluttering as you’ve instructed in your bestselling book and Netflix show, packing our lives into tiny plastic boxes and offloading joyless clothes to the neighborhood thrift stores, which are now overwhelmed by the tidying craze you’ve created.
We didn’t know how unwieldy our lives had become. We did not understand how the boxes of children’s toys in the garage had so weighed us down, how our overflowing desks were taking a toll on our relationships. You urged and we saw the light.
After watching your Netflix series “Tidying Up,” I too succumbed to your “KonMari Method,” which has spawned a mini-empire of books, professionally certified KonMari organizers at $100 an hour and now high-end storage boxes.
You inspired me to care about giving the toothpaste its own special place in the bathroom drawer, about sorting kitchen utensils by size in neat little compartments. At your behest, I rolled my towels into tight cylinders and stacked my sheets vertically. I stood my shirts into upright rows.
Even for me, a minimalist who can park in her garage and quickly sort through the dozen shirts in my closet, the act of clearing and putting things in a place gave me joy. Marie, you are so right.
I thought then.
But then I found myself in the store, loading my cart with plastic bins and shelving units, storage boxes and drawer dividers, because you told me that tidying required compartmentalization. And to do that, I needed to buy more stuff.
Marie, you sly sprite. You urged us to shed stuff only to replace it with new stuff, convincing us that plastic bins bring joy in a way that old Christmas decorations never could. You tamed my obsession with hoarding old gift bags – crazy! – and then nudged me into a new obsession with storage containers.
Are you a tidying genius? Or an opportunist who shames our consumerist tendencies while simultaneously nurturing them?
Little by little, I began to see your flaws.
First, you can’t fold fitted sheets. I watched your tutorial, expecting to learn how to crease elastic edges into a razor-thin square, and instead you just balled the corners up into a lumpy hexagon. This from the woman who has a five-step process for folding neckties.
Then, you suggested that my children would gladly sit beside me and fold their t-shirts into thirds, that the joy of organization could extend to a 4-year-old boy who has no interest in wearing pants, let alone sorting them. You lied. Strike two, Marie.
Strike three: You told me to fold my underwear. Now you’re just nuts.
Maintaining organization had become oppressive. Once I saw the truth, I could be free of obsessive tidying and realize true joy.
Joy is an extra 10 minutes to play with my children even if that means my shirts only get folded in half. It’s tossing a pen in a drawer and not worrying where it lands. It’s definitely not folding underwear.
And it’s dumping an entire box of mismatched Legos on the floor and producing something great out of the chaos, never fretting about putting each block back in its original spot because we’re too busy laughing and creating and living.
Marie, your house may be perfect. But in my house, life breaks out of compartments and spills from storage bins in beautifully messy, disorganized and spontaneous ways. And that brings me joy.
Renee Moilanen is a freelance writer based in Redondo Beach. Her column publishes in print every other Saturday.
Source: Orange County Register