Reasons Beyond Joy

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a clutter-hound, and that I am kind-of-perpetually trying to figure out how to get that part of my life and our house under control. (Just look at the whole Stuff about Stuff category here on JALC for a few snapshots on this theme…)

So I’ve been vaguely intrigued by the various chatter I’ve been seeing about Marie Kondo‘s new Netflix series.

I haven’t watched this show yet, in large part because I have absolutely been minimizing my TV time in order to keep a priority on my 2019 reading and writing pursuits.

Full disclosure: I’m very much on the fence as to whether I will ever watch it.

Even though I have a post here on JALC* that memorializes the day I purchased Kondo’s book, I must shamefacedly admit that my attempt to use that book as a decluttering system went the way of all similar such attempts in my life: I’m sure I have the book somewhere in this house, though I couldn’t really tell you where it is right now.

I can tell you I never read it, never used its system, never got this house clean and decluttered. So The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up becomes yet another reject in my own personal Island of Misfit Toys.


So, given my personal history of “failure” with the KonMari method, I can see why I’m having a good deal of ambivalence around the idea of plugging into Kondo’s show.

That ambivalence might be a contributing factor to why I felt so resonant with this critique of Kondo’s methods that crossed my path today**. After all, since I’ve failed at the KonMari method, why wouldn’t I gravitate towards an article suggesting that method is somehow wrong?

But even setting aside that kind of white hat/black hat reductionism—I’m all about the shades of grey***—there is a piece of this article that is sincerely, purely resonant for me. Anakana Schofield points to Kondo’s foundational tool: determining and keeping only what “sparks joy” for you, and succinctly captures why that is completely inadequate as a metric for books:

Literature does not exist only to provoke feelings of happiness or to placate us with its pleasure; art should also challenge and perturb us. […] Unread books are imagined reading futures, not an indication of failure.

I would argue that a similar rationale could operate in regards to other artistic genres–music, film, videogames****, what-have-you.

So if I even do find that book, or watch the show, I will for sure be using this insight to refine how I employ the rubric of what “sparks joy.” The first revision that comes to heart is what enriches me and my life, as opposed to what depletes and degrades my quality of life.

That may not be my final answer. But it’s a place to start.

* In that Stuff about Stuff category, natch.

** In other words: A friend posted it on Facebook.

*** But not those ones. Not ‘cos I’m a prude but ‘cos they model crappy (non)consent.

**** Yes. Videogames.


Image credit: Flickr user Sharon Mollerus, via a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

4 thoughts on “Reasons Beyond Joy

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