An Appetite for KonMari and Other Methods
I am not surprised at the global success of Marie Kondo's method for organization. I read her first book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, over two years ago and enjoyed it very much. Her descriptions of herself as a child organizing her home and her family member's things was cute, but also a little disturbing. Why would she feel the need to do this instead of all the things that children do, like play and create and make friends and build forts or solve puzzles?
As for the method itself, I can't really say whether it would affect how I live or organize. For a personal organizer, it's pretty much like preaching to the choir. Much of what she outlines is not revolutionary, but definitely laced with quirkiness such as the elaborate folding methods and thanking one's worn out things. There is also the halo effect of Japanese aesthetics with all of it's stereotype of being zen and minimalist. Something about it is appealing to people on a global level.
I think what her book taps into is a collective anxiety about how we are living. The too much stuff problem. The Hyper-consumerism, stuffocation, material excess, and hoarding.
Life changing tidiness has it's place in society, obviously, look how long her book has been on The New York Times bestsellers list. Kondo is an international sensation but there is a twist to her start, as chronicled in The New Yorker. Knowing what you know about her and her style of organizing, what is the history of the genre?
What of the Fly Lady, Martha Stewart, Clutter Fairy, Good Housekeeping and legions of others who dished out the same advice in the same sensational, easy to grasp and instantly gratifying way? All the self help books on organizing rehash the same advice, albeit in different flavors and for every type of person who needs them. I'm glad there are 99 flavors of organizing. This means that whoever you are, there's probably a book that can help you if you stay persistent about finding it.
On the other hand, maybe the books will never be enough.
Books will never be enough to satisfy the need to organize because the appetite for buying is what fuels the burning need to organize it all.
Remove the buying and the time and money spent sorting could go somewhere else, savings perhaps? A vacation? A class to learn something you've always wanted to know how to do?
The point I want to make today is that the sheer number of our possessions force us to make more decisions than we are able to make on a daily basis.
When I see clients, usually moms, hoard crafting and art supplies because they don't want their kids to use it up and waste it I wonder about the reason behind the hoarding. Maybe that mom never had the wide assortment of supplies her children had and because she has never had, these boxes of craft store goods are precious. Too precious to use. She doles them out sparingly. Soon, her older kids are no longer interested in crafts or art because they go to public schools that do not emphasize it. She wants to donate it to a school but the school art teacher says she gets so many donations from other families and doesn't have space for more. Still nursing an attachment to the supplies, the mom puts 10 boxes of mostly unused art supplies in storage.
Or take the dad with the huge comic book collection in safe keeping in the closet. He waits for the day to share the comic books resting in their plastic sleeve. He imagines sharing the favorites with his own two sons. The time never comes because his fear that the sons will ruin the comic books as they read them is so great. The comic books go into storage when they downsize the home after the boys are in college. After the father passes away, the sons empty the storage unit and lacking the time to go through everything their father saved, the comic books get donated to a local thrift shop. A treasure hunter finds them and is joyful to find a collection of comic books in mint condition.
I think we want something, some easy method, to come into our lives and give us clarity about our own possessions. Right now, the KonMari method seems to be the ticket to a new start. I wonder how long before another method catches our collective eye.