Raise your hand if you've read Marie Kondo's "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up." Keep your hand raised if you're rolling your eyes right about now.
That many of you, huh? Since reading this book (and talking about it nonstop), I've come across two reactions. One reaction: enthusiastic nodding of head, breathless stream of praise for Kondo's sock-folding method. The other reaction: eye roll and long sigh, followed by animated stream of bafflement concerning said sock-folding method.
Although I think the sock-folding method is ingenious, and I have adopted it in my own sock drawer (not confidently enough to share a picture, but hey), I can see why this is the last straw for some people. “[Socks] take a brutal beating in their daily work, trapped between your foot and your shoe,” is one quote from the book. “The time they spend in your drawer is their only chance to rest.”
It sounds a little extreme, I know. But I like what Kondo is getting at. By respecting and taking good care of what we have, our things actually last longer. When we fold socks, we're actually stretching out their elastic, which is why some of your socks have lost that loving feeling that they had when you first bought them. By folding all of your clothes (not just socks) upright, Kondo says that we are better able to see them in our drawers, making us more likely to spot a new stain or wear-and-tear that might necessitate some clothing first aid. Or to recognize the things we haven't worn in awhile, and discard them appropriately.
I've been taking to heart a lot of what Kondo has to say about only holding onto things that spark joy. For me, this has looked a lot like discarding, but it's also made me appreciate what I do have, more. Things like my Grandma Lucille's coffee cups, or an old pair of boots I have that fit me like a glove.
An unexpected parallel to Kondo's book came up this past week. My husband and I took a trip to wild and wonderful West Virginia, and got to stay in our first-ever tiny home cabin. My husband was the one who introduced me to the tiny house movement, and every now and then we throw around the idea of living a simpler, smaller life in one of these cozy cottages. Our dreams came true last weekend!
For those few days, things were tiny, and because of that, they were tidy. There was a one-burner hotplate, rather than a stove. There was just one wooden spoon for mixing. The kitchen sink doubled as the bathroom sink. Having just come out of my Kondo craze, I couldn't have been happier about such simplicity. In a small home like this, every item has a purpose, and a place. And everything was in its place! It was easy to keep clean, partially because there was less to clean and partially because there just wasn't enough room for things to be left lying out.
In those few days, I realized how little we actually need to fulfill our basic needs, and to be happy. The house was near a major trail, which we hiked every morning, and in the backyard we even had a fire pit, where we made our dinner one night and sat around the rest of the time. We looked up at the stars on the very clear nights, got used to using an outdoor bathtub, and didn't turn on the TV once.
I think when you change the space you live in, you start to see everything in your life differently. Your relationships, your job, how you spend your time. For a weekend, I learned how exciting simple pleasures — like a hike, or eating a meal you cooked over a fire, or using a composting toilet — can be. Here's to making sure that my life sparks joy ... tiny home, or not.