One fateful day, I listen to Marie Kondo’s book, “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying-Up” on Audible at 8.5x normal speed. I finish in 5 minutes and find myself inspired to experience the magic of tidying up. I wipe my Cheeto-dusted fingers on the white carpet and order a dumpster.
Marie Kondo instructs that I should start by imagining my ideal lifestyle.
I shut my eyes and imagine I live in a cabin in the mountains. BY MYSELF. I think about the fresh air, the tranquil views, and no toys underfoot. It is so peaceful in this imaginary world. A dimpled finger attempts to pry my eyelid open. “Mommy! Are you dead?”
“No,” I reply, “Not yet.”
Now that I have my ideal lifestyle in mind, I am to declutter by category, not by room.
Instead of going room by room, Marie Kondo recommends gathering all of my clothes/pencils/diapers/etc., putting them in a pile, and then deciding what to keep.
I start with clothes, taking my wheelbarrow from closet to closet, I grab all of the clothes. My job is made easier by the fact that 98% of the clothes are on the floor. Then, I visit the laundry room and gather all of the clothes that permanently hang on the rack, the ones that will never be brought back to their closets. I gather the stiff washcloths from the bathtub floor, the underwear my daughter put on all of her stuffed animals, and the dust-coated socks from behind the dryer.
With that, I think I have everything.
I return to my bedroom to continue my task, to find that the room is floor-to-ceiling full. I realize I am in deep trouble.
I review the instructions. “Pick up each item one at a time. Ask yourself if it sparks joy – you should feel a little thrill, as if the cells in your body are slowly rising. If it does, keep it! If it doesn’t, let it go with gratitude.”
I look at the room. The cells in my body sink.
I don’t know what happens next- I think I black out. When I regain consciousness, I find myself standing in our backyard. The clothes somehow made it into a large pile outside. I stand with propane in one hand and matches in the other.
I watch as a lit match leaves my hand, sailing toward the clothes. I guess I’ve decided to let everything go with gratitude.
And then it happens. Joy is sparked.
I watch the flames climb, elated that I will never have to do another load of laundry. I am addicted to this decluttering. I must find more things.
I grab my leaf blower, run inside, and blow all the tiny plastic Barbie pieces off the floor, out the front door, and directly into the fire. “But what about Barbie’s juice box?” my four-year-old wails, “How could you?” “Have you seen Barbie’s stomach?” I ask, “She only eats kale. She doesn’t waste calories on juice. And besides, I already burned her. She’s gone.”
I watched gleefully as the Barbies’ faces contort and melt, as my never used yoga mat goes up in flames, and the wall art I planned to hang for the past ten years disappear. I ask my husband’s bobblehead collection if they’d like to join the fun. They nod their heads.
I shovel off our countertops and deposit the contents directly into the flames. My husband’s face turns white. “But what about the bill for the doctor that sat on the counter for the past year? Shouldn’t we keep it on the counter for another year?
I grab the foam roller that I had planned to use but forgot to exercise. My four-year-old blocks my path, “I use that to roll out my stomach!”
“I’m pretty sure you aren’t supposed to do that,” I say, “but that could explain why you are never constipated. We should take that idea to Shark Tank.”
I’ve done good work, but I could do better. The more I watch things go up in flames, the more the cells in my body rise.
And that’s how I find myself on the lawn, throwing a lit match onto my house that I had doused in propane. I hug my kids and husband tight and watch as it burns down. No more toilets to clean. No more smudgy glass shower doors.
There is no need to fret about future loads of laundry that I will always be behind on. All of our clothes are gone. We are naked.
Joy has been sparked. Marie Kondo? She had it right.
Her book changed my life.