Every time I enter my tiny room, I would either step on something or there is no floor I could step on at all. I’m still amazed at the clutter I have amassed over the years and I still have no idea how to get rid of them. Am I bothered by it? Sometimes but not all the time.
Marie Kondo, an “organizing consultant” made waves when she sold two million copies of her book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” Her promise is you will declutter only once using her method: the KonMari Method.
I’ve always been wary of selfhelp books in general so this one didn’t appeal to me. But I was curious. AT the back of my mind, I want my room to resemble a bedroom and not a warehouse, for once.
As many people know, I love books. So, the majority of my pile are books. Then, there are the souvenirs from my travels and my friends’ pasalubongs. I have different receptacles for knick-knacks that I’m still trying to figure out the use in my life: Shoeboxes from five years ago. The poster that I promised to discard from my last general cleaning. CRT TV that my mom and I bought together more than 25 years ago. Clothes that would no longer fit in the closer. I could go on and this issue will stretch to December…2019.
One day, frustrated at myself because I wanted my room to look like Pinterest material, I decided to embark on a mission to do the KonMari thing. I took a leave from work. I bought storage boxes and trashbags from Daiso. Armed with the willpower to change my life, I tried to declutter my room. To change my life as the title of the book says: The life-changing magic of tidying up.
I failed miserably.
The major premise of Konmari is “keep only what sparks joy” and do the cleaning in one sweep.
The thing is these stuff we call clutter bring joy to me because why would I acquire them if I don’t in the first place? I was determined to make room for myself.
I started with books. I would try to put one book to my heart and feel if it sparks joy. I mean, I did that with authors who are not exactly my favorite but I heard were good. I thought it’s going to be difficult to let go. Surprisingly, it was the easiest part of this decluttering journey. Maybe because in my heart, I want to have more time reading books of my favorites. So, letting go of other books was a no-brainer.
I did the clothes. I told myself that these items will go to charity. I would sometimes find myself doing a back and forth. I’ll put one shirt in the “Goodbye” box only to put it on the “Stay with Me” box. I’ll change my mind and recall the moments I wore the shirt and memories that come with it. I didn’t know letting go of a T-shirt was like erasing a memory but the dream of Pinterest room prevailed. I managed to cut my clothing down to a few pieces.
When I went through the travel souvenirs, it was downhill from there. Museum tickets, postcards, city maps, konbini receipts, paper cranes, Barnes and Noble plastic bag, New York train tickets, etc. Stretch your imagination and guess what else is in the box of memories.
When I realized that the pile of travel memories is not moving, I knew I had to stop.
Why KonMari won’t work for me is also because of its main premise-to keep only what sparks joy.
I really don’t understand where she got the idea that the things I keep don’t bring joy to my life. I can’t just throw away the CRT TV my mom and I bought just because it’s not working anymore. It’s like the repository of my memories with my mom. We watched “Asian Treasures” on that television and shared laughs at sitcoms.
Marie Kondo means well, but to give sweeping advice to discard things that no longer spark joy is something that won’t work for someone like me who like making happy memories–and keeping them. This clutter are reminders of the adventures of travelling to a land where I could speak the language and still came out alive.
Decluttering is not just some chore of throwing away things. It’s an emotional and mental struggle of letting go of stuff that once made you happy or giddy. I’m not saying that we should all be attached to things. Hey, I don’t give m laptop a name.
I’m not sure if I should give an advice on how people should declutter or should not declutter. My room is still a mess and I live all year with the thought that one day, I’ll “organize” my stuff. I envy organized people but I’m happy with the “memories” of my clutter brings. On the left is my mom’s memory, on the right, are reminders of my trips to Japan, and in one corner is a pair of shoes that I abused during my three-month half-marathon training.
Whatever strategy do you want to apply to declutter your room or your house, please, don’t let go of your memories. Organize them perhaps? But keep those happy thoughts ’til you’re old.
Also published in Gadgets Magazine September 2018 issue
Words by Marlet D. Salazar