Books Have Feelings Too.

Before Marie Kondo’s show, I would often talk about how her book helped us so much in our downsizing mission. However, I would always add the caveat: You have to be ok with the fact that she personifies your stuff. If that seems too silly to you and you can’t embrace it, the book may be too much.

I didn’t sit down and absorb every minute of every episode of her show, but the parts I saw and the parts people are talking about, it doesn’t seem like she did that as much for Netflix as she did in her book. But y’all? THAT WAS THE PART THAT HELPED THE MOST.

Especially when it came to the final purges. We went through all of our stuff in phases: The first time we tried (and failed) to sell the house. The time we renovated the upstairs and so had to clear it out. The second time we tried (and succeeded) to sell the house. The move into the 900 square foot apartment. The clearing out of the temporary storage unit.

Those last two rounds of purging were the hardest, the ones that had us staring down at the piles of stuff we struggled to part with but didn’t have room for in our new life. And the most of what was in those final piles? Books. In the big house we had a wall of built-in shelves and THEN we had 3 huge bookshelves spread throughout the house not to mention a small bookshelf in ever bedroom. WE HAD TONS OF BOOKS. And having all of those books brought me so much joy!

BUT. We weren’t going to have room for them so they were going to end up on boxes in storage. But that’s okay, right? Because I could still say: Having these books brings me joy! and justify keeping them all.

BUT. If I personified my books and took a moment to see what brought them joy…being in a box wasn’t it. But if I donated them to the library bookstore where someone might be able to buy them and but them on their bookshelf instead of in a box – then the book would feel joy! And then my library would feel joy from the money!

I KNOW. IT IS SO SILLY. But if you really need to get rid of stuff, and a lot of it brings you joy, then sometimes thinking about the object itself and it’s purpose can help you let go of things you might not otherwise.

Because sometimes life forces us to get rid of stuff because we’re moving or downsizing or we have simply outgrown our spaces. And that stuff may bring us joy and so it’s hard to let go. BUT! If we stop and think about the purpose of the item that gets crammed in a box in a closet, then we might feel more free to give it a chance at a new life in a donation bin or a thrift store. I gave a 3-crock buffet away to someone who would use it more than I would. EVEN THOUGH I LOVED HAVING THAT THING THE FEW TIMES I NEEDED IT. We gave away our dining room table even though I adored it and considered keeping it in storage in case some day we had space for it. But the family who took it? LOVES IT AND EATS ON IT ALL THE TIME.

I really felt during several moments with some of those families where Marie Kondo’s book would have been more helpful because it would have talked about those type of perspectives. Maybe she brings it up in something I missed, I hope so, because as kooky as it felt as someone immersed in US/Western culture, it was really helpful in getting in the headspace to purge that last bit of stuff we struggled the most with letting go.

2 Comments

  • Elaine C. B.

    So, I keep hearing about her show and book, and I’ve been resisting. I seriously need to downsize/purge (that’s actually one benefit of moving every couple years with the military, we are forced to at least a little bit). But a lot of it is clothes, shoes, knick knacks, artwork, and paperwork. The paperwork is just a burden and I gotta sit down and power through. But the rest I am sentimentally attached to even without using them, because of the memories I associate. Your example about the boxed books is a really good one, and now maybe I will actually go watch her show!

  • Kim

    I like how you put it – going with what the item would be feeling. I watched this show and haven’t read the book (my Mom, who doesn’t have Netflix, got the book, though), but it has inspired me to get rid of most of my vintage finds from over the years. I can proudly say that I used all the things I brought home, and now it’s time to move them along to other people who will love them like I did. I also brought a lot of stuff home specifically to resell, and I’ll be getting rid of a lot of that, too. But I have so much, I’ll still have plenty to sell and plenty for myself and my family to use.

    Say, when is your next Bullet Journal class? I tried bullet journaling once before and couldn’t quite make it work, but maybe if I saw it in action it would help me to get one set up how it’s supposed to be and work with it.