Minimal | The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing (Magic Cleaning #1), by Marie Kondo

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing
(Magic Cleaning #1),
by Marie Kondo, translated by Cathy Hirano,
Published by Ten Speed Press (2014)
Rating: 
*****

Introduction

At University, the last evening before it was certain that we would be packing up and returning to our respective homes, one thought stood above all else in my head. Over the past five years, try as I might, I had accumulated a fair number of possessions. What was I going to prioritize carrying back? It was pretty straightforward that evening. I ran through everything I had, thought about what I had left at home, and prioritized accordingly. My approach to it was simple: if I never was able to return to University, what would I be alright letting go of?

I returned home to a house that stood suspended in time, to a room that looked exactly as I had left it in June, 2015, right after my Grade 12 board examinations. I’ve returned here several times on short stints, but never been invested enough in making my room look like I had evolved from the state I was in during that time. So answer papers from past exams were strewn around, a few revision guides were in my shelves, and my exam stationery kit remained exactly as is.

Considering I had time on my hands, I figured I ought to reorganize everything. I wanted to be methodical in the manner I did things, which is why I picked up this book. It did not disappoint.

Structure

Kondo is right about one thing. Nobody really teaches us how to tidy up. I certainly wasn’t taught, or “explained” why things went in particular places. My parents decided where things best fit – and we sort of stuck to those principles, even if (and I never did) come up with better ways to store things. Kondo treats this book as an opportunity to teach. Hence, there’s a lot of structure in the manner she writes, and that’s one of the things I appreciated most about the book. It lays down the premise of why there’s a high likelihood we know very little about what tidying up and decluttering truly means at it’s essence, and builds from there into the philosophy and evidence of how tidying up has assisted her and her clients. It is only after that she goes on to explain and illustrate how to apply these principles, along with additional principles per category of tidying up.

There’s a reasoning to her beliefs about cleaning up that I found extremely helpful, because they allowed you to opt-out and drop out of reading the book, or buying into her system – the one she’s popularized, rather, at any point. That reasoning is at the core of the book, and explains why she remains so passionate about the subject: something that comes to the fore when you watch her TV show.

The Language

Translating this would not have been easy. This is true of all translations: they require a lot of patience and a degree of meticulousness that aids in conveying precise, technical information to a wider audience in a language distinct from the source. The translator has done a fabulous job, not in the least because I smiled throughout my reading of this book. I couldn’t stop smiling because there was a simplicity and joy in the language that communicated the joy of cleaning up so well.

Conclusions

The book works if you buy into it, or go into an open mind and consider implementing any of the things she talks about. Even if you don’t, it’s an excellent theoretical read. For me, though, results were instantaneous. My room, today, is everything I am, personified. Less clutter and all, and that’s definitely helped my headspace.

Quarantine of Solace

The title is an excellent James Bond reference that I am hopeful everybody who reads this blog will be able to recognize.

Today was Ugadi, the New Year festival for some South Indian states. As such, my aunt and uncle seemed rather disappointed that I was unable to join them for the festivities – however limited they might be, owing to the present circumstances. I must admit, I was sad too. Being with family on special events like today would’ve meant some celebratory food – like sweet dishes, or something to relish and keep the day in my memory. In preparation though, my chikamma had sent me a payasa recipe, and I was very keen to try it out. Alas, this morning I forgot that I wanted to make payasa, and I ate corn flakes for breakfast, exhausting my milk supply.

I have vowed to make myself some payasa when I secure milk next – to celebrate the festival.

Not all was lost though. I had Shrikhand at home and ate that after my bath to ring in the new year.

This morning a friend of mine told me that a New Year tradition she had followed in her household was to practice, on New Years’ Day, everything you hoped the year would bring. I took this to heart, and one of the things I want this year to bring – for me, is the ability to let go of materialistic substances. Things that I no longer have use for, I would rather give to people who will be able to make use and take care of them. Thus, this afternoon, after motivating myself by reading Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I set away on the adventure of a lifetime: figuring out what books I would donate whenever I could donate next.

My books have always been a large source of joy for me. Before leaving to University, I had amassed a fair number of books for my library. I’ve always been a bit of a hoarder when it comes to books, and despite my reservations about re-reading books, I’m okay with it when it’s a hard copy. My childhood dream was to have a library of books available to me so I could set something up for the community I stayed in, so people could walk in and read, and walk out with borrowed books. Without any membership fees, just to encourage reading. I read so much as a child. My mum used to hide my books from me during exams – by placing them at a height I could not reach, so I would focus on my studies.

At University though, I’ve moved onto reading ebooks. I was genuinely inspired by the KonMari method and wanted to see if it would be effective.

So I held my first book up. No bodily response.

Then I held up Harry Potter. Immediate bodily response.

That’s when I figured out what sparking joy felt like. That’s bought me solace today. Long may my cleaning spree go. Hopefully, the excesses in my life disappear.