The problem is me, not Marie Kondo, whose second book, Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up, just came out. Ms. Kondo is a clever tidier-upper whose advice about putting things in shoeboxes has made her rich. I can’t think of anything more first world than going through your possessions wondering whether each one gives you joy or not, an important part of the Kondo process. It’s the sort of ridiculous thing self-help gurus suggest their bored dissatisfied-with-life devotees do. Not that Marie Kondo is selling herself as a guru exactly. However, the pillars of her voodoo are that you, the reader, will get/achieve/win more if you take her courses and buy her books. On page three of her first book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up she quotes anonymous clients who have “finally succeeded in losing 10 pounds,” “been able to really increase my sales” and “launched my own business.” Yeah, yeah, yeah.
I am all about unfettering our human spirits, but this process comes from within. No amount of fiddle-faddling with a sock drawer will change this divine truth. Speaking of truths, by the way, everyone feels better after a tidy up—it stems from most animals’ fundamental dislike of living in their own you-know-what. To some people—not me—organizing as a task can be satisfying in the same way as going for a run or baking a cake. Completing a task bestows a sense of achievement, according all the psychologists who ever lived. Yet is it really life-altering?
“My friend went Kondo mad,” a colleague said. “She’s always quoting the books. Yet she is still in the same mess life-wise, still grousing about the same things. She’s just tidying up a lot more.”
To me, something dark and broken lies at the heart of the Kondo phenomenon. Ms. Kondo claims to have enjoyed tidying her siblings’ bedrooms, an interest sparked by a book she read on tidying up as a child. There is no mention of a wicked stepmother, but I would love to hear a full psychological report. Let’s say her brother allowed Ms. Kondo into his bedroom. Then he let her tidy it up? He must have been two years old or incarcerated somewhere. Those are the only scenarios imaginable. As for the sister, sorry, this is too fantastical. What, one sister allowed another into her room to rummage around, I mean, sorry, “tidy” her possessions? No. Beyond me, belief-wise. Ms. Kondo needs 12 steps, not encouragement to do more tidying up. She once spent three years trying to tidy her own home. My guess it was probably pretty tidy to begin with.
Tidying up is boring and soul-destroying yet necessary for people who hate bugs, smells and icky goo. Also a must for people who have to get dressed to go out in public each day or, more importantly, help others out of the door, too. A small amount of organized order is necessary to enable us to reach our goals and maintain the connections we need to live life to the full. That’s it.