Finally! My love of organization and transformation meet (Cue fireworks! Shower of hearts!! Triumphant, romantic music!!!): in Marie Kondo. I know it’s been around for a bit, but her neat little book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying up didn’t enter my home or my consciousness until it was mentioned by a vlogger I love, Emily Norris. If Ms. Norris recommends it, it must indeed be magic, and so I Amazoned it this week.
This is not a book review but man, I Love This Book.
Here’s someone who digs organizing even more than I do (and I’m one of those freaks who from a very young age re-ordered the gum and candy bar display as my mom checked out of the grocery store and as an adult, moved every year for 7 years largely so that I’d have a new space to organize). Even better, Ms. Kondo gets that order goes much deeper than filing boxes and closet systems.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve used outside order as a tool to inspire internal calm and clarity. I love the feeling of neatness and a cozy, loving and lovely home-base nest perfectly suited for me. Everything I need, nothing I don’t love, right there at my fingertips. I don’t claim to have fully mastered this at all, but I’m well aware that an ordered space is a free flowing space. When everything is in order, I don’t spend my time looking for things, expending energy on junk or wishing things were neater. When things are messy, each time my attention snags on this or that thing out of place—out of flow—a teeny bit of my energy is zapped. When what we love and need are arranged in flow, energy has a least-resistance path to travel and I can spend my time what I love doing, not repeatedly noticing the vacuum that was left out or that Amazon boxes are starting to take over all the available floor space. What we want and need changes over time (and thus so should our living spaces), but here’s the thing: much of what applies to keeping a tidy home applies to life in general. Marie Kondo:
To truly cherish the things that are important to you, you must first discard those that have outlived their purpose.
Holy cow, yes.
Marie notes, “My criterion for deciding to keep an item is that we should feel a thrill of joy when we touch it… Items that we can’t bring ourselves to discard even when they don’t inspire joy are a real problem.” Amen. She continues. “When it comes to selecting what to discard, it is actually our rational judgment the causes trouble. Although intuitively we know that an object has no attraction for us, reason raises all kinds of arguments for not discarding it…making it impossible to let go.”
We allow not only things to hang around far past their due date, but jobs, relationships, mind-sets, routines, habits, even spiritual practices that once served us.
With our poor overgrown, overfed, overindulged, overrated, overburdened rational minds culturally lauded and in control, we lose sight of what brings us joy and unintentionally bury ourselves in piles of stuff we don’t love or need, relationships that are no longer in alignment for us and work we no longer feel inspired to do. Our lives quickly become dumping grounds, masking our passions and intuitions and diluting our focus and efficiency by overloading the circuits. Holding on to anything that doesn’t align with us anymore is incredibly costly.
Perhaps it’s time for an intuitive overhaul.
The rational mind, necessary and great at lots of tasks, is a the end of the day merely a tool (sometimes in more than one sense) for our intuition to use, not the other way around. Marie Kondo suggests holding an item in your hand and observing your body’s response. If it isn’t joy, it’s out. Honor the role the item (and I’d suggest, the relationship, job, home, etc.) played in your life, thank it for a job well done and then, if it’s time, release it.
Carrying dead weight only slows you down. Be willing to burn everything up until this moment for fuel.
MK asks, “Can you truthfully say that you treasure something buried so deeply in a closet or drawer that you have forgotten its existence? If things had feelings, they would certainly not be happy. Free them from the prison to which you have relegated them.” Hell yes! Whether referring to a person, object, a job position… free it up for someone else who’s ready to love it properly. While it may have been right for you at one time, perhaps it no longer is.
*As a side-note: Thinking things have feelings is a major projection of mine and a window on an area I can work on: That poor little rug, who will want it? It will feel abandoned and sad.”—in fact, there might be some gold to be mined in turning these projections on myself: Where in my life am I abandoning myself?*
During one clean out, I chucked all of my many, many journals (starting from age 6 or 7) one by one, into the recycling bin. I sat with a best friend, candles lit, as we read passages from our journals, thanked each one and… toss. We knew the purpose of everything we’d written down was not to catalogue experiences but to work through issues to go deeper, to who we were now. Those journals had served us so well. We honored them and sent them on their way to live out their next incarnation just as they’d done for us. That’s probably the toughest voluntary let-go I’ve ever experienced, and actually, it felt super great.
Not only am I now inspired to do another thorough clean-out of our home (so fun!!!), but I’m gung-ho to intuitively examine everything in my life and find where—whatever it is—has served its purpose, honor it and free it if it doesn’t spark joy and remind me of who I really am, thus freeing me just a little bit more. I’m here to express, play, love and live, not to expend my time and energy on anything that doesn’t serve profound presence NOW.
The rational mind is extremely quick and stealthy, easily swooping in over intuition, sometimes making it difficult at first to determine which was the original feeling (intuition, by the way, always comes first). We often unconsciously allow the voice of the intellect to hook our emotions and obscure the intuitive, true voice—the voice of our heart. While thoughts exclusively emanate from the mind, the intuition will always be felt in the body. I’m so excited to hold items in my hands, to sit in meditation with my mental habits, to observe my body when I’m with others and to discover which activities bring me that spark of joy and which do not. Anything that does not has the potential to distract me from presence—and for me, there is nothing worth that. Here’s to tidying up for real. LiveLove&BU
Image credit tidyingup.com