So, on several episodes of Question of the Day, James Altucher talks about how he recently read Marie Kondo’s book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. If you haven’t heard about it, the book presents a Japanese theory of decluttering — getting rid of alllllllll the excess in your home — and then organizing what is left. There are people who swear by the Kon-Marie method, and people who think it’s a lot of hooey.
I have several thoughts about this. I like the idea, in theory, but I think it’s a lot easier for people who live alone or with just a spouse. When you have kids, you can’t just get rid of everything. One, kids come with a lot of stuff in the bargain, and two, a lot of that stuff simply provides comfort. Do I believe that Shir and Amit could function with one-eighth of the stuffed animals they currently own? Certainly — but why should I deny them something that brings them a lot of comfort?
I go through boxes of stuff on a fairly regular basis, and I try to get rid of stuff almost daily. When Guy travels, I almost always take that opportunity to get rid of stuff that he insists we need. This includes things like incandescent light bulbs in specific sizes for lamps we no longer own; reams of paper bills for 20-year-old credit cards we no longer have; extension cords for the US, which we cannot use, manuals for appliances we no longer own, broken pieces of things that I cannot identify, and much more. If I ask Guy, “Do we need this?” He INVARIABLY says, “YES!!!” DON’T THROW THAT AWAY!” Like most people, we have a bag full of random cords to things, broken ethernet cables, non-working charging cables, non-working chargers, and so on.
Guy thinks we need it all.
Recently, we bought new Shabbat dishes to replace the set we got at Target back when we lived in Los Angeles, so at least 10 years ago. The silver rim had washed away, and we had broken quite a few pieces, so we no longer had service for 12. We had service for, like, 8 or 9, and we alone are 7. So we bought new dishes, and we bought service for 16.
When we came home with the new dishes, I said, “Let’s get rid of the old ones. Do you want to toss them, or donate them?” Guy was horrified. “You mean… we’re not going to keep them in case we need them?”
Tell me, Internet. Have you ever in your lives had a plate emergency? I didn’t think so.
We offered the dishes on our community WhatsApp, and within 45 seconds, someone wanted them. I made Guy box them up RIGHT THEN and take them to her house, because I know my husband. “Never throw away anything, ever!” is his motto. I wish I could tell you how many free computer bags we have on top of our closet.
In the same episode where they discussed Kon-Marie, Stephen and James also talked about color photography v. black and white photography, which turned into a discussion of digital v. film, and do we take too many pictures.
One of the reasons I went with a 64GB phone instead of just 16 GB was because I wanted to be able to take as many pictures as I wanted without having to stop and think, “Should I take this picture?” Yes, I may have more digital clutter, but I get real joy from taking and looking at pictures of my kids.
And almost every time I take pictures of my kids, I think about something Phyllis Sommer wrote. Now, I tried to find the specific link, but I couldn’t, because after a certain point, I had to stop looking. Because Phyllis Sommer is a mother who lost her brave son Sam to leukemia, and she is a person who still gets up every day and walks on this earth and breathes and moves and lives. So I can only spend a certain amount of time on her blog before I can’t breathe. Because it reminds me all the time how close we came to losing Adi.
At any rate, Phyllis wrote a lot about the pictures she takes of her kids, and how she encourages people to save all the pictures, even the bad ones, because sometimes they are all you have left. And I have a lot of that feeling in me, ever since Adi was sick. I remember thinking it a lot during his treatment, because I was terrified that we would lose him, and the pictures on my phone would be all I had left. I have videos that I still can’t delete, even when they are videos of Adi saying things like, “TURN OFF THE CAMERA. GO AWAY.” I have to save them.
I’m jealous of people who don’t have to think like that.