I know I’m not the only one that caught a few episodes of Marie Kondo on Netflix over the past month — January is always a time to clean-out, donate and do a major tidy-up. The idea of tidying isn’t new, but the Zen-like sweetness of Marie Kondo, based on the number of articles on all kinds of publications about the show, is taking organization way beyond, “cleanliness is next to Godliness.” Kondo’s perfection is a contrast to other systematized, ritualized processes for home peace like Marla Cilley’s Fly Lady who has been around for more than a decade. What is it about Kondo that is so different from Fly Lady?
I was devoted to Fly Lady early on in my mothering years: this service teaches you to break down your home into zones, where to focus your attention, emails you a “flight plan” to-do list each day and like Kondo, talks about loving your home. Cilley’s “swish and shine” mantra keeps you and your home on-task, clutter and dirt-free and her method of tackling big projects systematically helps to avoid the overwhelm of whether to tackle the hall closet or the under-bed storage. Fly Lady is the every-woman of how to get dressed, put on mascara and out the door (while tossing in a load of laundry)– she’s almost the home maker version of hiking’s “leave no trace” as a means of showing love to your home and yourself.
Kondo on the other hand, never addresses cleaning — her focus is clearing. I never boxed items within a drawer until I watched Kondo do it, albeit I used leftover containers from our local Thai restaurant and not brand-new boxes from Target. Kondo’s approach to loving each item, then releasing feels a little uncomfortable and I’ll admit — it’s become a serious joke in our house. “Do I love these boots?” “Nope, never have — I love what they do for me, but I hate the way these look on my feet.” Because love is all about gradations — and being realistic, sometimes we must own and buy things we do not love though we can love their function or their service to us in a time of need. This is where Kondo’s method falls apart and plays into that which is so American — the temporariness of love, and the need to feel good at all times — and that high, the seratonin rush, that we feel during this glow of infatuation.
As Americans we are always looking for the answer – today, an hour ago, hurry up. I too feel this high when I conquer a box after moving, and we have plenty of boxes after many moves. But we need both, Kondo and Fly Lady, to live — and survive and thrive — in a modern life that challenges us mentally and physically each day. We need the high, the reward to reach into motivation — but we also need a method to take care of ourselves. So let’s power through the stuff in our drawers (thank you Marie) and at the same time, learn to “swish and swipe” each day under the methodical guidance of Fly Lady — who really needs her own show. With all the “adulting” classes targeting the under-30 to high school set, as a society, we really need the un-glad skill set, the practical how-to, of managing a home.
But now for some humor, as only Shel Silverstein can write — while there’s shame in the mess (we all know and feel it) — why can’t there be a bit of comfort and familiarity in the ramble?
His underwear is hanging on the lamp.
His raincoat is there in the overstuffed chair,
And the chair is becoming quite mucky and damp.
His workbook is wedged in the window,
His sweater’s been thrown on the floor.
His scarf and one ski are beneath the TV,
And his pants have been carelessly hung on the door.
His books are all jammed in the closet,
His vest has been left in the hall.
A lizard named Ed is asleep in his bed,
And his smelly old sock has been stuck to the wall.
Whosever room this is should be ashamed!
Donald or Robert or Willie or–
Huh? You say it’s mine? Oh, dear,
I knew it looked familiar!