‘Talk to your crows!’ This precept should inspire us all as we begin the big, unknown adventure that is 2019.
It’s going to change my life, that’s for sure. My wife’s too. That’s because we’ve both sat, increasingly enthused, through the first episode of Netflix’s eight-part series Tidying Up, presented by adorable Japanese tidying up sensei Marie Kondo, whose charming if rudimentary English I have just cruelly satirized.
‘Talk to your clothes,’ is what she was trying to say. Coming from a Western presenter this would sound like so much New Age airy fairy drivel. Coming from a beautiful Japanese woman with the serene aura of a Shinto temple nun, on the other hand, it comes across, somehow, as deep, wise and true.
Marie Kondo, 34, is the multi-million-selling author of the international bestseller The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. Now, on Netflix’s Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, she’s showing various US families how applying her ‘KonMari’ method in their own homes can make them feel more fulfilled and happy.
Obviously, being a man, I was initially highly resistant to being exposed to such girlie bilge. Especially the kind of girlie bilge which might encourage one’s wife/girlfriend/partner to engage in the activity all men most fear: being forced to organize one’s special places – book shelves, clothes draws, shed, man-cave etc. – and chuck out all the things that are unnecessary.
Unnecessary? O reason not the need, cruel womankind!
The way Kondo does it, though, is really quite inspirational. And relatively painless. As she showed her first guinea pigs – the Friend family of California with their two toddlers – so long as you follow her rules you can totally transform your home (and your life) in the space of a month.
Key to this is deciding which things you really love and which are just freeloading passengers. She made the Friends put their entire wardrobes into huge piles – an exercise, as you’ll imagine, which offers delicious opportunities for watching the woman in your life in a state of absolute trauma – and going through it item by item.
The only things you should keep, says Kondo, are the ones which ‘spark joy.’ How do you know whether they’ve sparked joy? Well, you feel them for a moment and they should give the same sensation you get when you’re holding a puppy or some other cherished thing. If you don’t get this, chuck ’em: but only having first respectfully thanking the doomed item for its service.
Next is the folding stage. This too, of course, needs to be done mindfully and in a spirit of joy. (Otherwise, you’re never going to carry on doing it, are you? It will just be a chore). What you do – or rather, in my case, what you’re going to insist your wife does from now on – is to fold all your clothes in such a way as to reduce them to about the size of an office envelope. The point is that instead of piling them on top of one another (thus obscuring all the ones underneath), you store them a bit like files in a filing cabinet.
I’m sure we’ll pick up lots of other brilliant tips in subsequent episodes. If I’m honest, I can take or leave the backstories of the actual families involved. (But perhaps that’s because I’m a cynical English male from a culture that prefers to avoid too much heart on sleeve stuff about family relationships and rediscovered marital joy). But Marie Kondo and her translator/assistant I could watch forever. Marie is the Mary Poppins of decluttering. If ever her magic umbrella leads her to Delingpole Mansions she’ll find herself more than welcome to help me depitify my various Man Pits.