Like many of my friends I’ve been taken with the idea of minimizing, of owning less. It’s a rich person’s task, I know. I’ve been reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo. She dubs her technique the KonMarie method. If you’re interested in tidying, and in organizing, you’ve likely heard of it.
I have a house stuffed to the gills with belongings and I want to own less of it all. Mostly it’s not my stuff and it’s the teens and twenty something’s stuff that gets to me. I’ve tried to persuade them that our continued happiness all living together depends on them treating it more like a rooming house, where your stuff stays in your room, but in a three story house there’s a certain inertia to stuff staying on the first floor.
But I’m doing my bit. Most of my excess stuff falls into three categories: aspirational clothing (not too small, not aspirational in that sense, but aspirational for a lifestyle I don’t have, lots of party dresses, not enough parties), sporting goods, and books. I’m keeping the party dresses and asking for more parties, and the books? Well, I’m a professor and we’re a family of big readers so most of the books stay. But the sporting goods for sports I no longer do? They’re going.
Key to the KonMarie method is the idea that you should get rid of things that don’t bring you joy and that you should celebrate who you are today.
Here’s her advice about the clothes you should ditch:
“I’m not talking clothes that are a little tight, or things that you might be able to wear if you lost five pounds. I mean clothing that you’re hanging onto from years and years and years ago, that you would need a whole new body type to wear. Getting rid of old things is a part of making peace with who you are now.”
“Keeping only what sparks joy helps you realize who you are right now. As you’re saying no to certain clothes that don’t spark joy, you’re also often shedding what and who you were — or who you thought you wanted to be. You get a stronger sense of and appreciation for who you are. It’s a healthy exercise in self-reflection and a gentle but powerful letting go of the past.”
I warmed right away to the “joy test” and the idea of celebrating who you are now.
The athlete I am now doesn’t play soccer. I’ve said goodbye to soccer.
So bye bye soccer cleats and shin pads and socks. Bye bye soccer ball.
A friend who used to row competitively let go of some of her old lists of rowing contacts. She realized she was already still keeping in touch with the people who had remained friends.
I’ve got a full bureau of cycling stuff with my helmet, shoes, and Garmin on the top. That stuff brings me joy, though I did weed out some cycling jerseys, so it (mostly) stays.
Can you let go of the athlete you once were and celebrate the athlete you are now? If you did, what you let go of and what would you keep?