“Tidying up with Marie Kondo” searches for inner joy

Best-selling author and world renowned tidying expert Marie Kondo takes cleanliness to the next level on her Netflix-original show.

Released Jan. 1, the television series “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” takes the viewers into eight different households. Each of the homes has their own internal issues, but they all share a similar problem: they all have a clutter of items taking up space and they do not know where to start.

Kondo gives them structure with her KonMari Method, which dissects cleaning into five categories – clothing, books, paper, komono and sentimental items. She said the feature of this method is a person can clean by item and not by location.

Before she begins, she communicates with the home, asking it for cooperation. She does this by crouching on the ground, bowing her head and pressing her hands to the floor almost in what looks like prayer. While doing this, she asks the people to envision how they want the house to look.

Afterwards, Kondo has each member of household put all of their clothing into one giant pile. This allows them to see how much clothes they actually have, then she makes them answer this question: does this item spark joy?

If they answer yes to this question, they make separate pile. But if the answer is no, they thank the item and put it in a bag for disposal. Once all the clothing that sparks joy is handpicked, she teaches the person how to properly fold and store it.

Kondo shows them the same process for the other items. In doing this, she is allowing them to distinguish an emotional affiliation for an object from an obsession, then finds a place to rightly preserve them so that it saves room.

This process of decluttering is tedious and takes almost a month to complete.

At first when I began watching this show, I asked myself why in the world would anyone pay a stranger to tell them how to clean? The whole idea of this seemed unnecessary and bizarre.

I already decided I did not like it.

As I got farther into the show, I found myself intrigued. I saw Marie Kondo was not only entering her client’s homes and teaching them how to organize, she was essentially getting a deeper view of their lives.

After watching a few episodes, I was able to reflect. It was their security and their comfort as well as a representation of themselves. A cluttered home was essentially synonymous to a cluttered life.

It became clear the show was not just about getting rid of things. It was a therapeutic and a spiritual approach to ownership. Moreover, it was about people reacquainting themselves with their belongings, reflecting on their relationships, and learning to let things go.

So, I made the spontaneous decision to declutter my own life. I figured it could not be as hard as the show was leading on.

I was surprised to have stumbled across things from high school, middle school and even elementary– things that I did not even know I still owned, like shrunken T-shirts, a browning copy of “To Kill A Mockingbird” and crumpled math homework. Other things I found like stuffed animals, finger painting and quilted blankets took me further into the past.

I smiled at these memories, holding each item to close to my heart. I found it difficult to let go of these objects. Even though I knew I no longer needed them, I felt comfortable seeing that a fraction of my childhood had been retained.

In the end, the experience was harder than it looked. Now, I understand it takes more than wanting something done. It takes actual time and commitment. One thing Marie Kondo teaches us is it is OK to collect items from the past as long as they spark joy. She never tells us to throw them away, instead she shows us the neat way to store them so that we still have room for the future.

This is why I rate the show a 5 out of 5 stars.