Everybody wants a house that stays clean and runs smoothly. My mom read Marie Kondo’s book and told me about it before it was popular, but it wasn’t until all my friends were on board the train that I decided I might take the time to give it a look.
Like a lot of people stuck at home in 2020, I spent a lot of time making plans for better home organization, tidying things up, culling stuff from the house. Mostly using my own methods, but I tried the KonMari way for a couple things, too. Folding my clothes that way seemed nice in my tiny drawers, and having less of anything to clean up was nice, too.
But over time, it became its own kind of frustration. It required me to fold clothes differently than what I’d been doing for more than 20 years, so it was slow and ineffective. Some things didn’t fold nicely. And as a tall person who rarely finds jeans long enough, the whole concept of having a wardrobe–or anything in my house–solely because it “sparks joy” instead of being tolerated because it meets my bare minimum needs and “better” is outside my budget soon left me with a distinct feeling of lack instead of some newfound freedom from commercialism or whatever it was supposed to be.
A sense that the basic things I found that I had to settle for weren’t good enough.
That to be efficient, I paradoxically had to give up efficiency.
And a frustration that nothing I tried seemed to make things better.
Earlier this year, I reflected on this while I folded five baskets full of laundry. As I did so, I found myself considering how the method could be applied to many more things beyond, well, things. That led me to think about the practice itself, and as I folded a shirt the KonMari way, I decided to follow it with one folded the way I’d always done. It took more space. It wasn’t pretty in the drawer. But it took half the time, and it worked fine. I put them side by side on my bed and thought, does this spark joy?
And so all my laundry went into the drawers folded the old way.
Now I’m looking at other things in my life with the same critical eye. Obligations I signed up for, jobs I took on, social media platforms everyone swore I should try. Am I doing it because it actually helps, or is it just the popular thing? I guess it’s just like writing advice, and what so many resources tell you to do with it.
Keep what serves you. Discard all the rest.
Joy need not apply to laundry.