If I had to pick a word for this January it would have to be “declutter”. It is popping up everywhere, and if I can trust my spidey-senses it looks like it’s going to be a major theme for 2016. I’m sure you’ve also seen the host of inserts, articles and even books focused solely on how to declutter just about everything in your life: your home, mind, diet, finances and relationships.
I’m by no means saying that this is a new concept, but I think decluttering has now reached almost spiritual proportions. Perhaps because the act of getting rid of the things we don’t need and tidying up the things we do is a mindful experience?
After all, clutter is often a symptom of chaos.
On the forefront of this revolution is the brave neat leader, Marie Kondo, who is terrifyingly ruthless and delightfully bizarre all at once.
She has just published a sequel to her charmingly titled book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing which has taken the world by storm.
In these books she advocates that you should get rid of everything in your house that does not “spark joy”. While I find this rather lovely in theory, I simply cannot see how my toilet brush will ever “spark joy” in me. But apparently this is addressed in the second book.
She also has a specific place for EVERY SINGLE THING in her house and thanks each item for its service after putting it away. Yes, she thanks her bags, shoes, spatulas etc. (I told you she was delightfully bizarre.)
So I am tempted to buy this book. I know decluttering is good for you. I know tidiness is an excellent habit to cultivate. But when I read Suzanne Moore’s column about this movement in The Guardian, she struck a deep chord with me.
She reckons the decluttering craze is treating the symptoms and not the cause. Why do we have so much stuff in the first place? Why do we keep on consuming mindlessly? She asks the question: "Is this elevation of tidying enough to stop the circle of shopping, of built-in obsolescence, of fashion, of our complete lack of connection to where any of our products come from?”
I don’t think so. And I think pretending it will is a form of mind cluttering.
So while I am going to begin this year with a good decluttering, going forward I am going to focus instead of where the clutter came from in the first place and make 2016 the year of reducing.