Columns » Vodka Yonic

The dirty work of pursuing perfection

Kondo living

by

comment

Like all human beings, my one goal in life is to be perfect. This has been difficult to achieve, on account of my aforementioned humanity. I have never been one for self-help — almost every sort of faddish book or method to improve one's innate moral constitution turns me off. It's a huge industry, and yet look at all of these failures walking around! There's no way that stuff works.

But — and I'm sure you saw that "but" coming — I have been really into this one book about, of all things, cleaning. Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up hasn't quite changed my life yet, but it has definitely made me a better person, and set me well on my way to perfection. I fold my clothes! I take stuff out of my purse every day! I have dusted books that fit on one shelf! Sure, I don't make my bed every morning or unload the dishwasher — ever — but I'm positive I will soon.

A friend told me the about the book and said it was popular, and she was right. The New York Times, the Today show and probably your aunt have all talked about Kondo's method for how to straighten your shit out. I was skeptical, because people are stupid, but I bought it anyway (on Kindle, because why buy a physical copy of a book about getting rid of things?) and blasted through it in a couple of days.

It just made sense to me. Kondo's tone is no-nonsense and kind of brusque, which is exactly what I need to take the step from thinking about doing something to actually doing something. I was able to ultra-spring-clean my home in just a few weeks. Bags of unworn clothes, gone. Armfuls of books, donated. I even went through a large box of things from my deceased grandparents' house that I've been holding onto for a decade and was able to pare it down to just the items that mean something to me. (I felt kind of bad about it, but I have zero fond memories of that dust broom.)

And that's the crux of Kondo's technique (called the KonMarie Method): You must only hold onto items that "spark joy." That has been ... difficult for me. Such a twee rule, Kondo! Come on! I think some of it must be a cultural thing. Kondo is Japanese and worked at a Shinto temple as a young woman, so there are definitely aspects of Eastern spirituality that don't fit with my MO. I don't adhere to every single tenet in the book; I'm just not going to thank my bra every day for working so hard on keeping my breasts held up and lookin' fly. Ain't gonna happen.

But most of the stuff I've been sticking to, and it's working for me. It's making me a better, more perfect person. I even joined up with a couple of Facebook groups of people who are implementing the book's strategies, asking questions, posting before and after pictures. Oops, I posted an after picture myself. I'll tell you, though, a real joy-sparker for me is the voyeurism. There are few things more fun than getting a look into the lives of others.

Actually, looking through that group has made me realize just how easy I had it when throwing away so much life garbage. I live alone, so there's no spouse to talk into getting on board. There are no kids, who appear to be junk magnets, clogging up the works of perfection. Some of the participants are older than I am too, with several more decades' worth of odds and ends to sift through. My already minimalist inclinations and steely-eyed lack of sentimentality made trashing a lot of childhood photographs ("Who even are these people?") a relative snap.

I realize, too, that my minimalist inclinations are already in style. (And I thought I wasn't faddish!) The pendulum of interior design has swung toward harmony and empty space, fewer things but nicer things. Think tiny houses. Think a single stalk of wheat in a mason jar, casually yet meticulously placed on a reclaimed wooden shelf. Also, now's the time to feel like shit about overconsumption. But also again, there's nothing quite so privileged as bragging about how little you have. "Oh, Mary, are you still using toilet paper? Such waste. I just use these three seashells."

It has been nicer to come home, though. It's easier to clean. I know where everything is. Go on, ask me where my sunglasses are. I'm, like, doing yoga? Sometimes? On occasion? I'm not about to go out and try every new thing, of course, but my quest for perfection is coming along swimmingly.

I'll probably never make my bed, though.

Add a comment