Over the years I’ve tried a number of organizational systems. They’ve all promised to miraculously transform my home into a paradise of order and tranquility, to free me from the shackles of housework, so that I could spend more of my time doing what I wanted to do, whether needlepoint, quilting or just playing with the kids. They all sounded so wonderful–too good to be true.
All I needed to do was to create a 3 x 5 file system or fill in a highly structured calendar and “poof” like Mary Poppins everything would fall into place. To be fair, I have incorporated a number of helpful tips from the organizational experts into my household management, so it was never a complete waste of time to learn more.
However, for the most part, their overall concept didn’t work. Why? Some were too complicated, others too structured and still others too much information. “Would you just get to the point and tell me how to fix my problem!” I wondered, exasperated.
When a friend mentioned Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I added it to my reading list. After all, it had an intriguing title and I was always open to picking up a few tips on tidying up, especially since I have three little boys whose main task in life seems to be search out and destroy.
Even better yet, I was happy to see it listed in our library catalog, so I could read it for free. Naturally, the frugal person that I am, I requested it.
Little did I know how truly amazing this little book is.
Why do I like Marie Kondo’s book and how does it differ? It is a quick read for the busy mom, it is a simple system for the person who is easily overwhelmed and it is tailored to the individual. Three very good reasons! On top of that, she writes in an entertaining manner, which makes it easy to read, she respects the fact that I may want to hold on to some things that other authors (organizational experts) would say to trash and lastly she comes from a perspective of joy and gratitude.
This by no means explains her system of tidying. You will have to read her book to find out how tidying can really be life-changing and since I have only recently read it, I have a long way to go before I will have completed the task.
What I have noticed immediately is that the joy and beauty of order is highly infectious. After one area is transformed, I am eager to start with another area. I look forward to organizing the next drawer, closet, or shelf. I can say that I have rarely experienced the same joy and satisfaction after completing an organization project in the past. Why is that?
Marie Kondo uses the word “joy” repeatedly. She talks about only keeping things which bring you joy and if it doesn’t bring you joy, maybe it has a purpose and we should be grateful for the function it serves. For example, the knives in the kitchen don’t bring us joy like a vase of lovely flowers or a sentimental family portrait, but without them we couldn’t prepare our meals and we should be grateful for the job they do.
Although she doesn’t mention it, I have noticed that while creating order in a particular space, whether a bathroom cabinet, bedroom closet, or kitchen drawer, although the task is ultimately to create order, I naturally clean the area too. You may say, “So what?!” When the goal is to clean, at least for me, the mental image of a chore clutters my mind. When the idea of beauty in order is the goal, cleaning is a means to get there and it doesn’t appear as tedious. At the same time, while in the past as I was cleaning, I would move aside something that was no longer used, broken, or stained and continue cleaning. When I have a purpose of “joy” in order, I become keenly aware that there are some things that can be thrown out, disposed of properly or given away: medications expired, towels that are tattered, or clothes too small.
I would venture to say that in seeking joy in order, we are also striving for the beautiful. When we think of something beautiful, we describe it as delightful, charming, or lovely. I would add that something beautiful brings joy. If order for something to be truly beautiful, it possesses certain essential qualities: order, proportion, harmony, and symmetry. Without covering the philosophical constructs of beauty, Kondo continually strives for beauty in order, although she emphasizes, seeking joy. After achieving the beauty of order, a person desires to then maintain that order through tidying and cleaning. Once having glimpsed the joy of beauty in order, we desire more!
When we contemplate the goodness and greatness of God, who is Beauty, we see his magnificence in the order and beauty of creation. In some small way, when we bring order and beauty into our lives, that faint reflection of God’s order brings joy to our lives. As Rev. Aloysius Rother, S. J. says, “The closer a beautiful object approaches its Divine ideal, the more beautiful it is” (101, Beauty: A Study in Philosophy).
In his book, Rother concludes with the final statement, “Man lives then in a world of beauty, but this beauty is from above, from the infinite, uncreated Beauty of God, the All-Beautiful” (132).
When we imitate that beauty, even though it is a faint reflection in our homes through order and beauty, our lives are more joyful.
My home is not going to be seen any time soon on HGTV, but I am s-l-o-w-l-y working my way through the house to bring pockets of joy even behind the hidden doors and drawers.
Even in the little projects of our daily lives, we can contemplate the goodness and greatness of God and give thanks.