I have been considering the whole clutter and declutter question.
Apparently it is a hot topic now.
There is a bestseller on the waves that is having a big moment. Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organising, is an international bestseller.
I haven’t read Kondo’s book as yet, I will, but despite that I have been having a rather significant flirt with decluttering myself.
My desire to declutter started in London.
We have moved many times and the packing and un-packing is a big, big job. It becomes easier and you get better at it. Ruthless becomes the new way of indecision and for me, that is a very good thing. Time is too short to belabour whether something deserves to be kept or discarded. If I don’t have the answer in the first thirty seconds then whatever it is not important enough to hold a place in my heart or in expensive storage.
Why do we feel the need to declutter?
I am convinced it is an age related mood. I feel differently about life and how I live and enjoy my days. I want to be surrounded by what I love, my environment is very important to me, but I am aware that what I visually and emotionally require is vastly changing. In the past I wanted to collect, to create to change my interiors with belongings. My surroundings ruled me not the flip side. Now I am determined to live with what has meaning and what I feel wholeheartedly committed to.
I am not suggesting that by decluttering we destroy and deplete our emotional connections for we do gather those through our possessions. Possessions can anchor us, comfort us and define much about who we are. I see nothing wrong with that as long as our possessions are an extension of who we are, a description. It is when possessions become the ultimate goal and life driver that we get into trouble.
To declutter in a controlled way is therapeutic.
We have all tossed too much in a fit of rage and regretted the outbursts at a later date. Temper tantrums never make for cathartic cleansing. A good declutter is almost healing but requires proper planning.
I have spent the last six weeks decluttering our home in France.
I feel fabulous, light in spirit and free from so much un-necessary baggage. It was an emotional experience as I unearthed memorabilia that sent me barrelling down the rabbit hole of my past lives. I removed only that which had no meaning. How could so much have accumulated? I thought I was more a minimalist than a maximalist; not so.
Determining what was clutter and what was valuable became easier as I worked through our rooms. It was as difficult to be decisive over my children and husband’s possessions as it was my own. Clothes were the easiest and trinkets the toughest. How much of the inconsequential do you keep? I compromised and could have been more ruthless. Round two will be the answer for that.
There is a freedom to declutter.
For a start so much can benefit others and then there is the opportunity to re-invent yourself and surroundings. Removing parts of the past makes way for more in the future. Saying yes to how you see the future is refreshing and healthier than being locked in to what was decided long ago. We all deserve the chance to change our minds. Why should we live with the same furniture that we chose ten years ago? Paintings should be shared, why not sell and start over? None of these ideas are obligatory and some would find them nonsensical, they don’t enjoy change and would never ever contemplate parting with their history. I see nothing wrong with doing so if a fresh start is what you crave.
For some, living with clutter is their only way to survive, to be happy and content. For others they can only feel well if their surroundings are pure and streamlined. My problem, I wax and wane between the two and sit happily somewhere in the middle.
To declutter our lives requires a kind of bravery, a salute to the past and big thumbs up to the future. It is a beneficial move and I think…
at least I hope… I’m all for it, xv.
Marie Kondo: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organising
images iris apfel for achitectural digest