Last year in my post Cleaning and the Spark of Joy, I wrote about Marie Kondo’s best-selling book that deals with a topic rather dear to my heart: cleaning. Entitled The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Kondo taught millions that going through your belongings and deciding what to keep and what to save was a zen-experieince and one that we should all practice. Now she has come out with a sequel: Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up. And she’s not kidding, there are illustrations on folding, for example. If you have the time and the patience to learn how to FOLD clothing all over again, check out this video.
When I read Kondo’s basic principles I felt they had some weight. But then I encountered the concept that is truly over the top: the magical element of her method. That’s where the spark of joy comes in. You touch each item and wait for it to communicate to you. How does your body feel when holding this item? Do you feel down–your entire body responding negatively to this item? Or DOES IT SPARK JOY? That’s the key. If it sparks joy, it’s a keeper. And Kondo acknowledges that you might be skeptical. But she believes in her method saying IT WORKS.
Ann Friedman in the LA TIMES, took on Kondo in a recent article. She slices into the current phenomena bemoaning the fact that the readers of Kondo’s ideas are mostly women. And she asks why, saying that this is just a rebirth of GOOD HOUSEKEEPING and that Kondo is again chaining women to these chores when she insists: “Tidying is the act of confronting yourself. Cleaning is the act of confronting nature.” And Friedman counters saying that basically women are confronting OTHER PEOPLE’S MESSES.
Friedman acknowledges that more men have moved into the kitchen, but that Kondo’s book is sneakily making women forget that cleaning is a chore and that subsequently, men are not sharing it. And she cleverly analyses Kondo’s theory in the following way:
- If we are having trouble getting rid of an item, Kondo wants us to ask what our past attachment is to the item or our fear of not having it in our future.
- Bingo! Is cleaning after everyone in our family an attachment made in the past and therefore something we fear losing in the future? For me I have to admit, yes and yes.
I began tidying up when I was two–my mother said I would toddle around the house straightening rugs. That penchant grew as my mother’s life prevented attention to cleaning and tidying (she was our sole breadwinner) and I gradually took over those chores. I liked it. To this day, I like to clean, because I have CONTROL over my environment.
Yes, my husband and family have helped me–my husband still does. But I always find myself going back to make sure the furniture is just where it should be after a floor is washed or vacuumed. Is there a cure? Friedman says the SPARK OF JOY will truly occur if women reconsider their domestic roles. If Kondo’s books are written to push us deeper into the proverbial joys of cleaning, then maybe we have to find ways to release ourselves. Thanks, Ann, you’ve got something there. And I’ve got a solution.
Following Kondo’s MAGICAL process, this is something all women might do when tidying up, but at their own individual peril. Because I’ve been there done that, as they say–everyone of my family coming to me later to complain–but give it a shot!
Kind of following Kondo, when touching an item that belongs to a husband or teenager I’m betting that you are NOT going to feel THAT SPARK OF JOY. Great, toss the ripped pants, the no-longer viewed video game, the piles of old shirts that are always held back by a husband or partner because: “Oh that will make a great painting shirt.” Really? “How many painting shirts do you need?” And also, “I really can’t remember when I last saw you with a paintbrush in your hand!”
I marvel at the success of Kondo and her cleaning initiatives. But today, I think I’ve found a great way to interpret or re-interpret her magical concept. I should write to Ann Friedman and let her know. I think it’s an idea that would give her a SPARK OF JOY.
Thanks to the LA for the Photo