Monday, February 18, 2019

What I've Been Doing Lately

I signed up for Julia Bickerstaff's 100 Day Goal starting on 1 January. The idea is that you set out goals and work towards them one microaction at a time and this, coinciding as it did with some life changing events around here which I might go into at some future time, encouraged me to rethink a lot in my life. My goals can be basically summarised as getting my life in order, doing more things I love and reconnecting with my wider family - sadly, as so often happens, I've lost contact with some over the years.

As part of getting my life in order I decided to go back and reread Marie Kondo's The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up which I bought not long after it first came out. Just as I made that decision she burst onto the public stage again in a TV series on Netflix. We don't have Netflix but obviously a lot of people do because the internet and news media are full of people talking about Marie Kondo and not always nicely. There are memes mocking her premise of only keeping those items that bring you joy. her personal choice to have only a limited number of books has sparked outrage as has her belief that you should thank inanimate items for their service. The last of these comes from the Japanese Shinto belief system and while it's not something Westerners are in habit of - or for that matter always comfortable with - doing it's hardly going to do harm, is it. All this rage, vitriol and mockery have reached quite extreme levels and I don't understand why. It's not as if she's standing over people with a whip forcing them to throw away things they treasure after all. This is a woman who wants to help you live a better life by keeping only that which makes you happy. How outrageous.

The thing is, as I've realised during this 100 Day Goal process and while making a major decluttering effort, we all hang on to things that we no longer need. Why not move them on? Sell, recycle or give them away so someone else can enjoy or use them. Honestly I'm shocked that I've found so many things that actually spark misery and I'm wondering why I still have a lot of them. Often they are gifts that I've been unwilling to part with them in case I offend the giver. A certain wedding present that has been in my china cabinet for mumble mumble years and which I've hated from the moment I saw it comes to mind. Then there's the necklace that sits in my jewellery box - also hated since the moment I saw it and, in my excavations yesterday, I discovered a truly hideous handbag that I had buried out of sight. Why? Truth be told the people who gave me those things are no longer even with us and haven't been for some time but I've been hanging on to items which in all probability they had long ago forgotten they gave me anyway. As well as other things where my taste has changed over the years there they all have sat, a weight on me and taking up precious space in my house and life.

The thing is if you apply the idea that something has to bring joy it is remarkably easy to get rid of things but it also makes you realise what is important to you and what you need to make you happy. That's why my books are staying. Books for Marie Kondo personally are not important but for me they are a constant joy. There may be a lot of them but because I've always culled those I know I'll never look at again quite ruthlessly, they, each and everyone that remains, bring me joy - and that's fine because everyone has to make their own decisions as to what brings them joy and what they need to keep as much as what they should throw away.

So, there you go. If you want me I'll be sorting through more of a lifetime's accumulation of 'stuff' and seeking out what gives me joy.