Finding Joy in Letting Go

fourth year myah paden

photo by noah buchanan

photo by noah buchanan

“I think Marie Kondo is my new religion,” I say to my brother over the phone after spending approximately 8 consecutive hours of my life watching the Netflix home improvement show: “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.” This is a show in which a small, positively effervescent Japanese woman enters the homes of strangers and teaches them to organize their shit. Honestly, that is all I needed to know to get hooked as I, until recently, had a confusing amount of shit littering my tiny Athens apartment. For those who require more detail, I’ll explain a bit further. The show follows this woman and her translator, Marie Kondo and Marie Iida, as they suggest to various families how they might create a home where only those items which spark joy are kept and everything else is discarded with gratitude. After deciding what objects spark joy and which do not, Kondo offers that one should release the objects with a warm “thank you”.

Before watching this show I had never considered that letting go of my things could be a joy-filled activity. I have often held on to items for all manner of reasons (I might want/need it later, X family member/friend gave it to me, etc), but until I watched this program, it never occured to me that I could find joy in releasing those items. So I got to work on my bedroom, starting from my close and branching out to the rest of the space. I am currently in the process of ever so slowly adapting Marie Kondo’s method to every area of my home. In a grand attempt to spread this newfound joy to those around me, I hosted a junk swap at my apartment wherein I invited friends to take this tidying plunge with me. I took whatever they felt inclined to discard in the process to Project Safe Thrift Store, a local thrift store which uses donations of money, clothing, and other items to aid and support women and children affected by domestic violence. It made me immensely happy to see my friends finding delight in the things I thought no longer served a purpose.

I firmly believe that the joy that our everyday belongings bring us is extremely understated. Of the clothes, posters, games, and more that I discarded, I am sure that each item sparked joy in me at one point in my life, which is not meaningless. Although, material items are temporary, they have the potential to impact us beyond the material. They have the power to affect our daily emotional states, and they can hold mundane moments which later become precious memories. Regardless of approximated value according to others, our objects each serve a purpose, and when that purpose is fully realized, I can express my gratitude and release them without shaming myself. Gratitude made the process of organizing all the more fulfilling. It was even more so releasing those items with the knowledge that those items may find renewed purpose in the hands of another person. I can only hope that the items we released spark joy in more lives beyond our own.