It's January again, which means it's time to reimagine our lives and expect more from ourselves.
For me, that means considering tidying up my apartment. For real this time. And while I made this resolution on January 1st, it's taken me half the month to move on from thinking about it to developing a plan of attack. Maybe my next move, after fifteen more days of planning my strategy, will be to actually start tidying up. But we'll see. According to Marie Kondo's manga version of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, aptly titled The Life Changing Manga of Tidying Up, I'm right on schedule. So if you're thinking two weeks into the new year is a great time for you to drop your New Years resolutions, think again, because it's time to get into the Konmari method, manga style.
I first tried reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up about a year ago when fellow blogger Mary told me about Marie Kondo's "Konmari Method," more specifically Kondo's assertion that you ask yourself whether the things in your life (specifically in your living space) spark joy. I read through it. I dabbled a bit with organizing my book shelves, but in the end, I got a little overwhelmed, specifically with the idea of throwing out a whole lot of stuff I was somehow much more emotionally attached to than I realized.
The manga, however, made the whole process seem a lot more manageable. Why? Well, I think in part because I'm the type of person who responds well to character, narrative, and practical application. I don't learn from hearing the rules. I learn from seeing something done.
But let's talk about character. The manga's protagonist is a young professional woman named Chiaki Suzuki. At work, she seems to have it all together, but when she comes home, her life looks like... well, you can see from the picture above. She doesn't feel comfortable with living like this. She's embarrassed to have people over to see how messy her apartment is. But she also just doesn't feel like she ever has time to tidy up all the mess, and if she ever does get around to it, everything soon goes back to the way it was before. Does this sound familiar? It does to me.
I identify with Chiaki because--and this isn't meant to be a shocker or anything, but I'm going to spell it out for you anyway--Chiaki is a stand-in for the reader. She asks the questions we as the reader want to ask. She pushes back against the Konmari method right when we would push back on it as well. In The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, when Marie Kondo said something I thought was a step too far, I'd think to myself, well, okay, but I'm not doing that. Chiaki says that too, but then Marie takes it one step further and insists she needs to do it anyway, which in turn makes me think, crap, maybe I need to do it anyway. It's a simple strategy, but it works.
It works especially when Marie Kondo says some of the weirder things in the manga and we get Chiaki's weirded out responses, because I too am a little weirded out at times. For instance, Marie Kondo says if you're having trouble throwing out something, just sprinkle a little salt on it to clear out the negative energy. Then send it on its way. Or if you're feeling sad about throwing away a picture or a stuffed animal, it's probably because these things have eyes, so just cover up the eyes.
It sounds bananas, but seeing our hero Chiaki do it anyway makes me think, okay, fine I'll try it. Even the salt thing. Maybe.
The section on folding clothes is where things get especially strange. Marie Kondo explains to Chiaki, "Folding our clothes is an expression of love and appreciation, and our clothes will respond." According to her teachings, inanimate items have feelings and can create negative or positive energy depending on how we treat them. For instance, your shirts get sad when they're shoved into the bottom of your dresser. My favorite line, however, is when Marie Kondo proudly announces, "I treat my bras like royalty."
So maybe all this time, the problem hasn't been that women are wearing the wrong size bra. It's that we haven't been treating our bras like royalty? Sorry, Victoria's Secret. The secret is out.
I thought the hardest part about this whole Konmari Method would be accepting the idea of getting rid of books, but it actually wasn't. There's one thing Marie Kondo says about the books that really stuck with me, as hard as it is to accept. "When it comes to books, timing is everything," she explains. "The time to read a book is when you first get it." Well dang. If that's the case I probably have a lot of books to throw out. After I sprinkle salt on them, of course.
But no-- the one I really can't fully get behind is the clothes. The majority of the mess in my life is clothes. I really identify with the above panels because I too have so many clothes and last time I counted, I still had only one body. But still! A girl likes to have options, and just because I haven't worn something in two years, that doesn't mean I'll never wear it again, right? That dress and I have been through tough times together. I know all of that sounds ridiculous, and when Chiaki is making similar protests in the manga, it sounds ridiculous, but like, even hearing Chiaki change her tune didn't fully convince me that if I get rid of everything in my closet that doesn't spark joy that I'll immediately have exactly as many clothes as I need. Something tells me I would go out and buy more.
Overall, however, I'm excited to try the Konmari Method, and seeing an actual character go through the steps and change her life methodically through careful discarding, organizing, and storing, was a lot more effective than just reading through the steps. I'm not usually even a manga reader, but for this particular type of book, I think it helped me a lot. The images stick with me longer. The tasks seem more doable.
Now I'm going to hand this over to my fiancé so that he can get rid of all of the things in our apartment that don't spark joy in him as well. This kind of sounds like fun.
About the Blog
The authors of this blog are four women with opinions about pop culture. That's all you really need to know.