Clothes, Papers and Books

We finished with our books last night. We’re getting rid of a couple hundred, and are probably only keeping three or four hundred. Considerably more than Marie Kondo’s thirty, but I expect we’re more of bibliophiles than she is and books bring us more joy.

It went a lot better than I was afraid it might. Getting the books down, as I showed in the last post, was pretty difficult and overwhelming, but after that, the sorting went really well.

The criteria, “Does this spark joy?” is such a great one, because it throws out the “shoulds” and “oughts” and can be immediately intuitively obvious what stays and what goes.

Because books are more or less communal property in our household, I asked my husband to go through the pile that did not spark joy in me to see if anything in it sparked joy in him. He kept half.

This could have been cause for argument, but that’s not the way the system works. If the answer is “Yes!” to “Does this spark joy?” then you keep it and you can’t argue with it.

It was funny, though, because as we were shelving the books, he did explain why he kept some of the books. I laughed and said that there was no need. Sparking joy is internal and it’s subjective and no-one can possibly argue with it. The only question we’re allowed to ask each other in this process is, “Are you sure this sparks joy?” If the person again says “Yes!” then ya can’t argue with that! It does and that’s the criteria by which we keep or discard.

We have about four or five empty or near-empty shelves that we’re going to use for storing other things that have not been stored properly like games and photo albums. It will be nice to get them out of piles and into proper places, but the photo albums, like other sentimental items, are going to be in the last category for sorting through.

I’m going to say that in terms of deciding what to keep, the Konmari method seems goofy on the surface, but is actually insidiously brilliant. By sorting by category, you do build your skill at making quick decisions about sparking joy or not, and you do it in such a way that you’re better at it when you start encountering the more difficult categories.

Next on my list is supposed to be skin care products. I am sure this is a much more onerous task for a single lady living in Tokyo than it will be for me. I have a bottle of skin lotion I like and a bottle of soap I like. I think that’s actually it, though I will faithfully go through my bathroom to find out.

In fact, I may just roll it all into makeup, hair ornaments, and toiletries, then declutter that way. The reality is that my most egregious clutter problem is handing on to some bottles of shampoo that don’t work for my hair and some hair ornaments that I am not really fond of.

After that, it’s going to be knitting and sewing supplies.  That, I expect, will be quite the challenge even if my stash isn’t as huge as many.

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