I want to Marie Kondo my head.
I want to remove all the junk in there that is no longer giving me joy.
Actually, I don’t really know much about Marie Kondo, other than a vague understanding that she is the guru of decluttering. Once while surfing Netflix, I clicked on her show, Tidying Up. I thought it might be some sort of grisly crime scene drama.
It turns out it was a reality TV show about paring down your living environment. In the show, indecisive hoarders are given tips from a woman named Marie Kondo on how to throw junk out and how to fold clothes.
It didn’t give me joy, so I turned it off.
I am all for minimizing my living space, but I am not about to pick up every item and evaluate its contribution to my life. I am not about to thank a sock for serving me well just because it’s mate has a hole in it. They both go. No regrets.
Every couple of years or so I go on purging binges. I bond with heavy duty garbage bags. I make ritual sacrifices at the dump. Not only does this cathartic pilgrimage free large spaces of useless junk, the process brings me joy. Great joy.
But in my purging, I am cruel and heartless. If there were any ethnicity found in useless crap I would be brought up on war crimes. If it is in my path, it goes.
I live by the mantra, When in doubt, throw it out. While this is usually applied to food that is questionably safe to eat, it can also be applied to clutter that has no effective “use-by” date. If I have to stop and think about whether I want to keep something, it goes.
Of course I still have to be judicious when I go on my cleansing sprees. For example, I know I would never be forgiven for throwing out the cat.
Call me the Anti Kondo. Because discarding stuff is serious business and there is no time for reflection or second thoughts. Throwing junk out is not for sissies. It calls for quick, decisive action. And a large truck.
I am thinking about creating my own reality TV show. I call it American Ninja Fire Sale. Each week I visit a family with seriously bulging closets and tantalize them with a vision of living life with empty shelves.
In my show I expound on the profound life example of Siddhartha Gautama, who lived in an empty cave for six years before emerging as Buddha. I inspire them to become one with nothing. To embrace the emptiness in their lives. To be fat and sit cross legged on a bare floor without Netflix.
Imagine never having to cook again. That life can be yours if you just free yourself from the pots and pans and useless utensils that clutter your kitchen cabinets.
Then I bring in my team of consultants, who are basically big guys with hand trucks. They relentlessly remove everything from the house while the panicked owners run behind desperately trying to retrieve whatever they can. What they save they get to keep.
And the end of each episode, the house is pretty much empty and I drive away in a moving truck loaded with stuff to a large abandoned warehouse in Newark.
I don’t know, it sounds pretty entertaining to me.
But I am not all that emotionally invested in my show. Instead of pitching it to Netflix, I will probably just pitch it, even though the idea brings me joy.
This scorched earth ruthlessness has its downside, however. Particularly when applying it to decluttering my head, which I desperately want to do. Taken to its logical conclusion, I would be destined for a lobotomy.
Like most people, I have a lot of stuff in my head that no longer has personal value. Like knowing the name of my first grade teacher, for example.
And worse, there are all of those thoughts that get interwoven with judgment-clouding feelings like loss and regret. I have a few junk drawers filled with crap like that. It would be nice to clear them out and replace them with thoughts that bring me the sort of innocent joy I encounter whenever I am able to instantly find a pencil or scotch tape.
But we can’t just purge cluttered stacks of thoughts and memories just because we don’t need them. We can’t just thank them for their usefulness and leave them on the curb for trash collectors or drive by strangers who want to open a bank account and are struggling to come up with the name of a first grade teacher.
Good and bad, those thoughts and memories define who we are.
And without them we would have no need for Marie Kondo.