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Objection [stuff]

Small chicken sculpture
Small chicken figurine given to me by my Aunt L, who originally gave it to my grandfather, then regifted it to me upon my grandpa's death

Have you yet witnessed the next "simplification" trend that has been hitting the US recently, manifested in the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo? I've seen it appear in several different scattered-around places - for instance, apparently it's been the #1 bestseller on NPR's hardcover nonfiction bestseller list (what? NPR has bestseller lists?!). Anyway. The first and uncharitable thought that crosses my mind is that it's hilariously ironic that people are buying a book to figure out how to declutter.

However, the thoughtful and more charitable folks over at Root Simple have rolled up their sleeves to give the approach a solid test-run, and their thoughts on their experience with the process are making me reconsider, to some extent. The hubbub might not be sufficient to convince me to actually acquire the book, but I'm taking away some useful insights from the secondhand experience.

For example, as Kelly points out, the Shinto-influenced tendency to personify objects speaks to the emotional element of dealing with stuff. It's easy for me to get stuck when dealing with possessions for this reason. I have several boxes full of handwritten notes and cards sitting in a storage pod somewhere in Lincoln, NE. It does make sense to me to hold objects and ask if they bring me joy. It's a reminder that I live in luxury.

And gifts. Somewhere, over the course of the "stuff-purge" commentary, it was pointed out that gifts should not be kept for so long that they become a burden. It makes sense to me to say thank-you to the gift-giver and the given object, and then let go of the object after a period. Some things will linger longer than others. In the case of the small chicken figurine pictured above - I am grateful that my aunt thought of me and my chicken-keeping ways, but the photograph will be more than sufficient as a memory. Figuring out where to put the thing rather quickly becomes a burden with figurine-type objects. I should know, for I have burdened myself with many such things over my ceramics-making periods.

Another thing I appreciate about the Root Simple approach is that I know they share my desire to avoid simply throwing things away, but they're also human about this desire - we have to do the best we can to send orphaned things to the right home, but we also have to avoid getting too caught-up in the process of trying to get everything to exactly the right place (for instance, trying to sell all of one's purged rare books on Amazon won't necessarily move them along quickly).

I'm also going to have to figure out how to store my clothes when I move to Lincoln (dresser's in the moving pod), so the tips on how to fold your clothes may become really handy really soon.

And, only partly related, here's today's reminder-to-self to get off the internet occasionally:


( 9 remarks — Remark )
Jan. 16th, 2015 07:40 pm (UTC)
It's a reminder that I live in luxury.
Do you think so? I would have said you lived modestly.
Jan. 16th, 2015 07:44 pm (UTC)
But on reflection...
I suppose there is the traditional formula, "Who is rich? One who is satisfied with his lot."
Jan. 16th, 2015 08:39 pm (UTC)
Perhaps it is modest compared to the average American lifestyle, if such a thing exists anymore.

I'm returning to the thought of, "I can afford two bicycles, a rowing machine, a fancy computer, and all sorts of ridiculous foodstuffs." (all of which "bring me joy" in the KonMari sense).
Jan. 16th, 2015 08:51 pm (UTC)
There are at least two Americans, so there is clearly an average. ;)

Since you are apparently satisfied, you are indeed rich, and certainly richer than I am. My ambitions are too large for my budget.

Jan. 17th, 2015 02:43 am (UTC)
LOl. We discussed this at lunch the other day. About how you should only own things that you cherish.
I don't actually cherish my trashcans, or veggie brush but I kinda need them.
And then how I'm an artist. I've lugged around bits of things for DECADES before I need it, and it's perfect.
Jan. 17th, 2015 05:38 am (UTC)
This is why I have that box of titanium plates and bolts.
Jan. 19th, 2015 03:38 am (UTC)
My veggie brush "sparks joy," so to speak, but I recognize that's somewhat unusual (got it in France, it's a style I really like). I'm with you on the trashcans.

I suspect you're doing a reasonably good job of keeping track of your inventory of somewhat random bits. I had to have something of a "come to Jesus" conversation with myself regarding particular art/craft supplies that I was really never going to use again. Stuff with future potential utility has earned its place, as far as I'm concerned.
Jan. 17th, 2015 05:40 am (UTC)
This is not wholly successful, but I'm working on the "if you haven't used it in several months, put it in a box. If you've moved the box more than twice without opening it, throw it away" style of housekeeping.
So the place that falls apart is with actual sentimental value, as opposed to prescribed sentimental value. I'm supposed to care about gifts. I actually care about my grandfather's flight logbook from 1925. I have to make sure the latter doesn't get in with the former, regardless of how rarely I look at the latter.
Jan. 19th, 2015 03:35 am (UTC)
I've tried the box trick before. It was funny to do it with kitchen stuff - I went running back to the box for mixing bowls very soon after putting them in there. Friends were quite happy to accept the kitchen items I didn't keep (duplicate mortar and pestle, Pyrex measuring cup, tiny saucepan).
( 9 remarks — Remark )

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