Two dear friends of ours operate by a simple philosophy: collect adventures, not things. Jon and I subscribe to the philosophy in theory, but not reality -- we have two sets of almost everything on both our boat and our apartment. In anticipation of merging our apartment and boat homes, I recently read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, by Marie Kondo.
The KonMari method, as it's called, is a beautiful short read about the philosophy, in addition to the logistics, of decluttering.
I'm a naturally sentimental person and my default is to save everything with meaning, which means I constantly have to force myself to simplify. Jon is much the same way. But the burden of all those meaningful collected goods can weigh heavily upon the soul and I often regret what I get rid of.
While much has been made of the book's space-saving folding techniques, which are nothing to sneeze at -- I look forward to KonMari'ing our tiny boat closet -- what really resonated with me was her declaration of decluttering through joy.
I took three things away from the book that will help me personally reach a spirit of collecting adventures, not things.
Hold each item in your hand and ask yourself:
If yes, well, keep it. If not address the item.
I love this because it allays the inherent sense of guilt I feel from getting rid of something I once loved. No matter how tired and worn the thing you're holding is, no matter who gave it to you, it had a moment that sparked joy and has therefore done its job. If it no longer sparks joy in your heart, thank it for its service and then let it, and yourself, move on.
Then, there's this odd and lovely practice.
Kondo suggests that when you enter the threshold of your house after work each day, and as you put back all your things each night from wearing and carrying them, you should take a moment to acknowledge them and thank them for their service.
I thought about this for a bit and realized that when we're at the boat, this comes naturally. Our boat feels like a family member almost as much as it feels like our protective shell.
This different mentality toward the Scallywag, as opposed to a brick and mortar home, is part of why we put so much more effort into her -- why we don't mind neatening her up or washing her down every week, when we can go a month without doing a scour of the apartment. By placing so much emotional investment in this thing, chores suddenly feel like an act of loving care.
My one quandary about the book however, is the balance between simplifying and always being prepared. At least once a weekend, we'll pull something out from the boat that we're glad we haven't gotten rid of, that instantly saved us time or expense because we hoarded it away. According to Kondo, we're missing the adventure of replacing it and what we'll learn along the way.
But tossing things that we might need in the future and don't necessarily spark joy (tupperware full of screws, I'm looking at you) feels gratuitous when we do return back to them for help so often. Perhaps far more often than an apartment dweller would.
(Okay, let's be real, our tupperware full of screws is so useful in our boat home that I sing a song when it gets pulled out. That's its own joy, I guess. But you know what I'm talking about.)
Where's the line? How do you handle your emotional attachments versus packing light? Have you found a way to pare down while remaining emotionally charged instead of bereft? I'd love to hear about it.