A COUSIN hilariously commented the other day, “I wish it was possible to Marie Kondo our politicians.”
Yep, especially with the upcoming elections in May, it is a bit challenging to find enough electorables that, uhmmm…“spark joy.” So good luck again, Pilipinas!
Indeed, best-selling author Marie Kondo has finally entered the global lexicon as we discuss ways how to even KonMarie people out of our lives. Discussions about this brilliant Japanese lady, an advocate of decluttering and organization, has entered social media, taken over opinion spaces and news reports, that it has given rise to over thousands of memes, both positive and negative. A few didn’t even talk about her method at all but her physical appearance; I saw different memes both praising and criticizing her bangs, for instance. (I personally like those bangs. And if I could handle it, I’d probably go for it.)
I cited her method in this space back in 2015, when her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up hit our local bookshelves. Her way of helping us put order back into our lives by getting rid of items we no longer need, sparked a quiet decluttering revolution. (See, “Declutter…but how?,” in the BusinessMirror, December 10, 2015) Since then, Kondo has moved to the United States with her family apparently, and now, with her Netflix series Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, is impacting more lives.
In this series, she helps American families take on the often-overwhelming task of going through their clothes, papers/documents, kitchen and garage, along with mementos in an effort to pare these down to the barest essentials. Of course, it has set off some backlash, as well, especially when she suggests that we keep our books to a maximum of 30. Suddenly, Kondo, kawaii in her very conservative schoolmarm attire, has become an enemy and agent of evil.
Take a chill pill, book lovers! As in all things, Kondo is about organization, and what she says are mere suggestions. If you can live with your thousands upon thousands of books, keeping them clean and organized, then no worries! Keep them.
But if you’re like me, with a sudden need to downsize as I live in a small apartment, and suffering once in a while from dust-induced asthma, I had to let go of many books I’ve accumulated since my pre-adolescent days. For one, it has made my househelp happier as she doesn’t need to exercise the feather duster too much! Seriously, whittling down one’s books can be a lifesaver and give one a sense of the really important things in life.
For instance, it was imperative for me to keep all my Dune novels by the late great Frank Herbert. The magnificent science fiction series on feudal lords and kingdoms ruling distant planets, with a messianic figure being awaited by a mysterious organization of nuns, is among my treasured possessions. That was a nonnegotiable for me.
Of course I had to keep my recipe books. I love cooking at home and, often to de-stress, experiment on dishes. Those recipe books have kept me sane so many times, as I learn to treat meats, seafood and produce in far different ways than I can think of on my own. (My favorite recipe book of all is Le Cordon Bleu’s Quick Classics for the relatively easy procedures.)
I also kept classics that made an enormous impact during their time and reverberated through the years, like John Milton’s Paradise Lost, Jose Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere (The Social Cancer), Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita and Herman Hesse’s Siddharta (inherited from my parents and grandparent, respectively), Alice Walker’s The Color Purple and Sylvia Path’s The Bell Jar, while among the enriching fiction/nonfiction I’ve kept are Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential and Ruth Reichl’s Tender at the Bone (both about working in the kitchen and memories of growing up with and around food).
The rest of my books, as well as glossy magazines like Vanity Fair, Esquire, Asian Dragon, Metro and the hundreds of travel magazines I’ve brought home from the different air carriers I have been flown from one country to another, I have donated. Many of these are now on the shelves of humble libraries of privately funded schools in far-flung areas like Mount Pulag and Benguet, as well as Palawan, Batangas, Sulu, etc. According to lawyer Angelo Valencia (a.k.a. as Kuya Pultak), who helped build these schools, the magazines will be appreciated by the teachers.
So, yes, while many of us book lovers tend to keep books even after we’ve read them because we’ve learned much from them, or they have inspired us in some form, it gives me immense pleasure and satisfaction to share the same experience with others, especially those who normally may not be able to afford or have access to these.
Unproductive stuff in our homes that have been gathering dust from neglect, for sure, need to be tossed in the trash bin. And the New Year is the best time to rid our lives of people just screwing our groove, and material possessions that are damaged, not being used, and just taking up valuable countertop or garage space.
But books—and clothes—may be reduced to the ones we truly treasure, while the rest may be donated to those who are most in need and to those who must be inspired to reach beyond their environs. After all, Marie Kondo is all about sparking joy. If we can do this for others, I think she would approve.
A final note: To those who have loved their books, and want to spark the same joy they’ve experienced in reading them with others, you may donate these to Atty. Valencia through Klasrums ng Pag-Asa. Call 0917-5681303 or visit their Facebook page.