I have been giving an army of black bin bags their marching orders.
By now I have progressed from my wardrobe to invading every other part of the house. Including the outside storage shed, which was full of things I intended to sell AFTER we moved in. When things settled down, you know.
This discovery reminded me how, at one very recent point, the energy in this most beautiful house felt so stifling that I thought we might have to move. I am sure my husband will be relieved to know that now the house is once again looking as light and airy as it did in its unoccupied state, the requirement for relocation has been lifted.
In order to comprehend the full volume of what we own, Kondo advocates decluttering by category, in the following order:
- Komono (miscellany aka everything else)
Once I had mastered clothes, books were a breeze and a glance through my personal papers quickly made it apparent that most were way past their date of use(fullness). Still, whilst the purging process felt far less excruciating than in the apparel category, the energy contained within my rapidly diminishing filing system was every bit as emotionally and physically draining, quite literally leading to tears, tantrums and threats of divorce. I’m not a natural drama queen so I can only suppose that there were levels of unconscious letting go and processing at play here.
Once I had moved beyond these personal effects, things mercifully lightened up and clearing through our open plan living and kitchen area was easy as child’s play – as was the child’s playroom, much to my surprise.
Having watched me clear for a week or so at this point, I sat down on the floor to re-explain the process in toddler-friendly terms (not that they vary greatly from the adult instructions):
So you hold each item in your hand and ask your body whether it brings you joy. If the answer is yes, we keep it. If the answer is no, we put it here to give to another child.
Frankly, I am ashamed of giving my child so little credit. I expected just about EVERYTHING to be kept. Instead I was thoroughly impressed by the swift and intuitive decision making of a 3.5 year old, including disposing of several items that I still had attachments to. Blessedly I had the good sense to shut up, dutifully depositing them into the “to go” pile and keeping myself from sabotaging her decisions.
All that sorting accomplished, there remained “only” the final task: storing.
Again, Kondo’s method is fairly intuitive:
In order to know what to keep, ask your heart. In order to know where to store it, ask your house.
(This is not a verbatim quote as, true to form, I have already passed the book on.)
Simples, right? Well, almost. My house’s answers involved a lot of running up and down stairs.
The criticallly important question of course is, can it last?
Kondo claims to never have had any of her clients rebound into a life of needless excess. I sure as heck ain’t planning on being the first. Anyway, as she is quick to remind us,
The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.
Purging possesions that no longer serve us then is simply the foundation of physical and mental space that allows us to create the lifestyle that truly serves our bigger vision. Which pretty much sums up why I embarked on this whole process in the first place.
After all, it seemed mighty ironic that I travelled all the way to the vastness of the African bush to create a big life vision, only to come back home and find there was no space for that vision in my everyday habitat.
That’s a long way to go to find out I had too much stuff. Maybe you only have to go as far as your local bookstore.
Trust me, it’s a lot cheaper…
Images: wewanttolearn.wordpress.com, Ann Wilson @ thewealthchef.com