There has been a lot of discussion, negative and positive, around Marie Kondo’s “purging your life, decluttering your space” comments. “Get rid of anything that doesn’t spark joy…” has prompted a firestorm of meme’s in her honor; a lot of which are in mocking or attacking way.
As I sit back in my (yet again) new place, I think about this last move and the process of moving overall. It has taken this move, the 5th in two years, for me to identify why this is such a source of anxiety to me. It also took a discussion with my housemates to help me process further, and a comment from a friend who defined the root of my anxiety to finite detail. It all comes down to de-cluttering vs. attachments. So, I would like to offer another perspective on the sentiments Ms. Kondo has shared.
Before I go into the deep seed by the name of, “Anxietatem Inordinatio” that has been growing and taking root within my soul, let me share this last move to you. We received notice in January that our previous landlord decided not to renew our lease. Our lease was up at the end of March, however, we discussed with the landlord if we could be out a month earlier; she wanted to move family into her rental and we had an opportunity that we couldn’t pass up. We decided, that this time, this move, we were hiring movers. Such a novel idea, pay someone to move your crap for you. However, the reality is, you’re still responsible for sorting, purging, and packing your items. Thus watering the rooted seed that was planted deep within my soul at a very young age and spreading throughout my psyche with rapid strangling vines.
Packing. Sorting. Purging. . . yet again in my life.
Packing. Sorting. Purging.
Which should really read, “Water. Sowing. Sprouting… these suffocating roots taking hold of my soul again.” So the gist is, this simple act of packing is a huge trigger for anxiety. I was triggered. I was anxious, snippy, pissy for a month prior to “THE MOVE”.
As a child we moved A LOT. So much in fact, I believe in my primary years I attended every elementary school in the Kent School District. In my teen years, I was in/out of foster homes, lived with friends, never really knew where I’d lay my head or what crazy was going to uproot my false sense of security again. The only time in my life I can remember staying in one place longer than a year was during my marriage. I perfected the art of packing, purging, moving, and unpacking. All of this relocation has carved a canyon in my soul that is filled with anxiety, disconnection, and depression. I learned transitioning into adulthood this way of life is my “norm”, it is just the way it is. I am now finding that the learned responses are not normal, my life just was not normal.
- I learned that material things were replaceable, but never were replaced.
- I learned that getting attached to material items only gains more hurt in the end.
- I learned that people are easily to befriend, but hard to maintain friendship with relocation after relocation.
From these “norms” I formed rules.
- If I haven’t seen it or used it in a year, donation or trash it is.
- If it’s one of the, “…last minute items” tossed into a box, it’s probably trash or donation anyways.
Whoah… As a 42 year old woman (almost 43) the realization that that’s a lot of my life I haven’t retained, maintained, or stayed attached to. I’ve thrown a lot out, from pictures to people. A lot of youth who are in the system try to hold onto and keep any item that reminds them of their “safe place” or “home”. I was the exact opposite. I have mastered the practice of disconnect and not attaching to anything that’s “given” to me. It’s things that can be replaced, maybe. In a sense, I would like to defend Ms. Kondo. I fully understand what the sentiment behind what she was trying to teach, “If it doesn’t bring you joy…” I think that a lot of those who are mocking her for her statements on non-attachment are missing one key point, she’s Japanese and Zen Buddhist. Non-attachment doesn’t mean to dismiss all from your life and disconnect. It means to not allow materialistic items, negative relationships, or such own you.
I’ve compared life to a river. There’s no aspect of the river that’s permanent. The water that’s flowing is continually changing. The very edges and banks of the river are constantly eroding and sand is being carried away. If a big storm comes, and the water rises, the shape of the river can change. The water finds a new path and that becomes the new path of the river. So there’s not aspect of a river that’s permanent. Life is a lot like that. There’s no aspect of life that’s permanent. It’s when we get caught up in those moments of making things in life seem permanent that we run the risk of becoming attached. So when we attach to the permanence of things, then those things start to own us.- Noah Rasheta
In my possession are a few items that do spark joy, as Marie Kondo mentions, and has travelled to and fro by my side. I have a old school Mickey Mouse stuffed animal that has been mine since I was around 3. I kept a rocking chair that my grandfather won for me back in 1976, before I was born. I only got rid of it this year after major weather damage from being on the back patio. It was sad to see it go. But, it’s just a material item, the memories I hold of my Gramps is far greater than anything he’s ever given me.
I also have a handful of friends that have been with me since junior high (1989-1991) and seen the chaos that is my life.
Kevin, I love you to the moon and back. There is no question about that.
Veener Schliden, You’re my sister from another mister. I’d fight any dude for you.
Overall, however, I find that things that bring me full joy in life are the things in this moment. As much as I collect items like Star Wars or Wonder Woman, I know that in the event I need to purge them, they can be replaced. I know that these materialistic pieces that are being donated will make someone else’s day, and I’m okay with that.
- My pugs on either side of me, nesting in bed, while I read or play on my phone.
- Any and every time my son tells me he loves me.
- A hearty laugh with my best friend.
- Inside jokes that took 15 years to marinate and still tickle my soul each day.
Satisfying, comforting, and safe memories that are being made each minute of my day. These are the things I choose to hold on to.