Hitting the Restart Button

Now that I have finished reading both “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” and “Spark Joy”, I am reassessing my method, which hitherto has been somewhat haphazard and, while having elements of the correct way to do it, the truth is that it is incorrect. This does not mean the last month was wasted effort. This is a point at which I could easily become discouraged, but instead I have decided to hit the restart button and not worry about it. In fact, I am glad, because I am not even close to the “click point”, as Marie Kondo calls it (and I’m pretty sure I grasp her meaning), and in truth I was beginning to feel backed into a corner. Now I have escaped the oppressive corner!

I can see why people would give up, but I can see the mistakes I’ve made that would cause me to give up (again). First of all, I have been trying to tidy everything. My categories have been a bit fast and loose, nothing has been gathered all at once, and I have been trying to help everyone else do theirs as I go. BIG mistake. There is a lot of hypocrisy in doing that, because one inevitably accuses others of one’s own faults and foibles. Ouch.

So tomorrow I’ll be starting with only my own things, by category, in the proper order. I have brought out my bins of clothes already to pull out once again, this time armed with the right questions to ask myself. I say the proper order because it makes complete sense to me. I had already been going in at least somewhat the right direction before I read that there was a correct order, and a lot of what I read confirmed things for me that helped give me the confidence to do this at all, as well as the confidence not to be defeated because I goofed up a bit. In the past, I probably would have felt a little silly and given up before making a bigger fool of myself. Well, that’s not a very useful way to live one’s life.

It must be said that my husband has been very supportive. It might not even seem like he’s done much, and it would be extremely easy to overlook, but if I’m really honest with myself, I doubt I would have even bought the books for myself, much less embarked on a “tidying festival” of such magnitude. But I do enjoy a challenge. I mentioned it thinking it might be a bit silly – or taking that defensive stance to avoid the sting of someone else telling me it’s silly – but instead my husband told me it was a good idea! And now he has created a monster.

In all seriousness though, I can’t even tell you how many times in my life I’ve wished I could just burn all my stuff and sleep on a mat on the floor. I think I’ve always been a minimalist at heart but just didn’t know how to get there. It’s possible that somehow all the moving I’ve done has been symptomatic, and an “excuse” to get rid of stuff. My family moved quite a lot when I was a child too, so it is also perhaps a habit picked up there, and perhaps this is where my anxiety over stuff comes from – the idea looming in the background of having to pack it all up and move it. I know that anxiety is there even when I’m not planning any imminent move because everywhere I’ve lived in my adult life has been temporary from the start.

I get very overwhelmed by too much stuff and in spite of pretty regular purging of stuff, there always seemed to be no end to it. I am probably what is known as a “highly sensitive person” but I wonder if we aren’t all like this in reality, but some are just more attuned to it, or perhaps a better way to say it is that the general “noise” of life is louder for some people. What started it though is that we want to move sometime sooner rather than later, and I figured since I have the time, I’d do some of the preparation work for that now. Over time thinking about it, I also realize that most of the stress associated with moving is dealing with all the stuff. I understand some people seem to enjoy having a lot of stuff and truly, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that. That is up to them to decide. I believe that most people appreciate tidiness, no matter the amount of stuff, and that some people are unwilling to confront themselves. I think in the latter case it is a loss to themselves.

There are quite a few reasons both profound and mundane for doing this. Most of these are discussed in Kondo’s books, but I admit that I got more out of “Spark Joy” than I did out of “The Life Changing Magic”. The former is the second of the two books and has more practical information on the KonMari Method, which is really what I am more interested in over all, since I can come up with all the spiritual mumbo jumbo myself.

I jest a little, but there is a Zen saying, “Before enlightenment, chop wood. After enlightenment, chop wood.” I hope this is self-explanatory! We need to balance the practical and the emotional, and I find this system does this well. No matter how silly you might feel thanking your old underwear for having been of service to you, I think it is not a bad practice. When discarding things that are not worn out, it makes it easier to let it go. It is that dreaded “closure” people seek and often don’t find I think. Rather than hashing it all out yet again, just thank the thing or the person for whatever it was they did for you and then move on. Gratitude is better than bitterness and regret.

It is true that through actually tidying you must confront yourself and the past. It might be emotional, but in the end it clears a path. Of this I am confident though I am not there yet. The hints are showing, and I like what I see.

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