Illustration by Victoria Borges
Your best-selling book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” has sparked a global movement. You’ve inspired disciples. And your brand-new book, “Spark Joy,” has set many minds to rest about how to “properly” fold everything — including winter jackets — and how to organize a desk drawer with pencils stored vertically.
Thanks to you, millions of homes, mine included, have been tidied, organized and reborn. My home and I have been KonMari-ed — yes, it is now a verb.
I’ve discarded thousands of items, hauling more that 45 bags and 50 boxes of stuff to Goodwill. I’m on a crusade to find inner peace by getting rid of material things.
Your KonMari method of gathering all items in a category all at once — clothes, books, papers and miscellany — from across the house is what sets your course apart. The million dollar question you ask us to consider as we touch every item (after thanking objects for what they have done for us) is, “Does this spark joy?” This question has brought clarity to my life. But, it’s also sparked other questions, such as:
“Where the **** are the pasta bowls?”
Actually, that’s my husband’s question, and he’s really ticked off. He’d love to tell you about how one night he cooked a nice Italian dinner and was getting ready to serve it. He searched everywhere for our pasta bowls. “Sorry hon, those bowls have been KonMari-ed,” I said. “They didn’t spark joy. ” (Here’s how my thought process went: The bowls were a gift from my sister-in-law and her now ex-husband. They liked to give expensive, generic presents. Using the bowls made me think of them, sometimes unflatteringly.) He found my rationale irrational.
Another question of mine: Is my shower really cleaner if my daughter wants to kill me?
Late in your book you offer tips on how to tidy a bathroom. This includes drying off and putting away shampoo bottles and such. This is time-consuming — and it can really annoy people. Take my daughter one morning at 5 a.m., yelling from the shower, “Mom! Where’s my conditioner? What did you do with it? You are soooooo annoying! Bring it back and get rid of that book!!”
How do you know when to stop?
This question, unsurprisingly, comes from me. Once I begin tackling a clutter category, I don’t know how to stop. In my ruthless, minimalist-driven desire to free myself from stuff, I realize that I’ve made some “spark joy” decisions too quickly. Items are collected and promptly put in the car, driven off and donated. Lickety-split. Get it out now and be freed, I think.
Family silver (fish forks don’t spark joy!), a painting by my best friend from college, armfuls of Lily Pulitzer dresses and some art projects my daughters made in pre-school were quickly Kon-Mari-ed. Since then, I’ve found myself missing some of these things. I've reached for one of those old dresses, and I've tried to find one of the books I'd given away. I realize now that what doesn’t spark joy in me immediately has much more to do with my mental state at the moment than how I might feel later.
Marie, your books have added some life-changing magic to my life. I’m no longer a person possessed by possessions — though your teachings have sometimes possessed me. More than anything, your “spark joy” criterion has empowered me in making decisions. But no matter what, I will continue to ball my socks, and I will never empty and put away every night the stuff that’s “trapped” in my purse.
Courtney Crane Dauer