Tidy Up & Spark That Joy!
Tidying Up. This seems to be the hottest trend this winter, thanks to a new series streaming on Netflix starring the Japanese queen of conquering clutter, the petite and pretty Marie Kondo. I wrote about this young Asian phenomenon a few years ago when her book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” was all the rage, but now she is reaching an even larger audience with a reality show on TV.
In her new TV series, Marie shows up, with a translator, to visit a variety of people in greater Los Angles to help them sort out their closets and by inference, their lives, sort of like a dainty Japanese version of Mary Poppins. People sure have a lot of stuff these days, especially a lot more clothes than they need, though there is one Japanese-American woman in this series who has collected more holiday nutcrackers than the Christmas Tree Shops.
I still think some of the problems with the Kondo method lie in translation. How many Americans would say that any of their inanimate belongings “spark joy”? They would more likely say, “I’m really attached to this.” Also, the advice about saying “thank you” to your possessions is a bit much for your average American.
However, I have to say that Marie is 100% right about cleaning out your purse regularly, as you realize when you can’t find a pen, comb, or Kleenex when you need it. She is right that bringing order to your house makes for a less stressful life, though I know I will never fold my clothes like origami, as she does. Hang them in the closet, that’s my motto. I do wonder how many people backslide into their old messy ways after a big clean-up too.
Speaking of Netflix, I always laugh when they send me an email announcing a new show I will like, which is invariably something like “Inside the World’s Worst Prisons”. Hello? What have I ever watched on Netflix that would give anyone the idea that I like this sort of thing? Nor do they go out of their way to announce something that I do want to see, such as “Springsteen on Broadway”. Now that’s more like it, a very enjoyable and entertaining show, plus Bruce doesn’t nag you about tidying up.
And speaking of tidying, have you seen the new robot at Stop & Shop? It is a tall (about 6 or 7 feet) and skinny rectangular apparition with googly eyes and blue lights that glides along the aisles with a gently whirring noise. When I first saw it, between dairy and frozen foods, some people seemed to be intrigued while others just ignored it.
The first robots in stores are apparently named “Marty”. I don’t know if individual stores are allowed to name their robots. Its comical “eyes” are just a gimmick of course, but the robots are equipped with cameras that use image-capturing technology “to report spills, fallen items in the aisles, and other potential hazards to store employees to improve your shopping experience” or so they say. I wonder if the cameras are also being used to spy on customers who might be shoplifting or workers who might be goofing off. It will be interesting to see if stores will be using more robots at the expense of human workers.
How about a robot that would come to your house and tidy up for you? Now that would spark joy, unless the robot went crazy and started trying to fold everything it bumped into. The grocery store robot Marty wouldn’t work because he doesn’t have any arms. Many people (though not me) have already become accustomed to having a digital assistant in their homes, speaking of spying on you, but Alexa can’t do any real household chores for you either.
Meanwhile, charities that accept used clothing and household goods are benefitting from a big increase in donations, which is good. But the best way to prevent clutter is to ask yourself when tempted to buy something: “Do I really need this?” If you don’t buy it, you don’t have to worry about what to do with it later. Works for me.