I did a Netflix binge a couple of weeks ago on a series called “Tidying Up” with Marie Kondo. Kondo is a de-clutter author and expert from Japan. Her show involves going into the homes of people to help them rid themselves of their stuff. The participants were varied, from a married couple with two young children trying to balance life on a single income, to a music family who moved from a large home in Detroit to a tiny apartment in LA, to a widow who can’t get rid of her late husband’s things, to a retired couple in a jam packed houseful of stuff and two gay couples trying to respect each other’s spaces.
The show brings with it an emotional and spiritual element, as one of the practices of Kondo is to first introduce herself to her clients’ home by kneeling and bowing her head for a good 15-20 seconds in silence while serene music plays. The music almost puts you in a trance-like state and suddenly, the kneeling bit is over and you’re like, “Awe, man, my inner chi was just about to come full circle.”
Jokes aside, the show is transformational on many levels. The first order of business is for participants to make a bed pile of every article of clothing they own. The mountainous heap of clothes puts into perspective how there is a tendency to live in a lifestyle of extreme excess. Reaction to this first exercise is often one of shock and disappoint with owning so much unnecessary stuff. Clothes that are sent for packing are thanked for their time. Yes, the owner must verbally thank their dismissed clothes. Kondo encourages her clients to keep the clothes or items that “spark joy.” There was I guy on there who had a gross collection of sneakers, many of which had never been worn. He admitted to being over 10k in credit card debt because of his sneaker habit.
The tidier spaces are a bonus, but the real gift of this show is how Kondo makes it simple to ensure that everything has its place, and this practice in organization serves as a beautiful lesson about the importance of balance for our lives and why organization of not only one’s space, but most importantly of the heart and mind.