BY BARBARA ELLIOTT
Not being one to keep up with current trends, I had of course never heard of Marie Kondo when I was assigned by another magazine to write a story about one of her employees. For the unenlightened like me, Marie is a lovely Japanese woman whose mission in life is to organize the world. She will send her disciples into your home to help you “keep only those things that speak to the heart, and discard items that no longer spark joy. Thank them for their service — then let them go.” It turns out, she’s a genuine cultural phenomenon with her own Netflix series that features people weeping copiously as they decide to let go of shirts they haven’t worn since the Reagan administration.
Although my husband and I are by no means hoarders, our house does contain a lot of stuff that unkind people might deride as not “transforming our home into a space of serenity and inspiration,” as Marie puts it. So I decided to look into this whole KonMari Method, as it is called. I checked out her elegantly austere and tranquil website and read tips on her very Zen blog.
According to Marie, sharing and discussing to-do lists is a productive habit for partners. When she married her hubby, they began each day by listing out every household chore in a shared spreadsheet. “When I finished a task, I would put a check next to it – and when my husband noticed it, he would send a simple thank you note (and vice versa). This process helped us realize the number of tasks necessary to live comfortably together, and what kinds of tasks are best suited for each person,” she writes.
Seriously? A spreadsheet? I’ve been retired almost two years, and the thought of creating a spreadsheet still gives me hives. On the very day that I read her blog, this is how our spreadsheet would have started:
1. Me—clean up kitty throw-up left beside the bed by our cat, Dexter (aka Mr. Urpy)
2. Hubby—Remove dead mouse from other side of the bed, then write Barbara a thank-you note for cleaning up the kitty throw-up before he could step in it on the way to dispose of the mouse.
Somehow, it doesn’t seem quite so mystical when you put it that way. Besides, we each have so many chores to do each day that we could never complete them, what with all the spreadsheet updating and thank-you note writing. Even Marie admits that she and her spouse gave up on the spreadsheets after a while, although they still appreciate the heck out of each other. And my last real job was writing thank-you notes professionally, so no thank you.
The larger issue for us would be deciding which items to thank for their service and toss. One of my husband’s many interests is making camping hammocks, which require all kinds of ropes and do-dads that I do not understand so am no position to judge. But one very essential component is something called a whoopie sling. How could that not spark joy?