—By June Mathews
For The Tribune
I consider myself a fairly with-it person. You know, cool, hip, rad and all that. So when I heard about the latest trend in decluttering, I figured I should give it a try. After all, my reputation as a cutting-edge kind of gal demanded it.
Basically, you pull out a pike of stuff then pick up each item one-by-one and ask yourself, “Does this spark joy?” If so, keep it. If not, thank it for whatever you learned from it, and say goodbye.
Sounded simple enough, if a bit kooky, so I set aside a Sunday afternoon to try it. Deciding my wreck of a closet was the logical place to start, I piled some things on the bed and got started.
My conversation with my discards went something like this:
“Thank you, chartreuse jacket. From you I learned that wearing you renders my complexion such a sickly shade of green that people avoid me for fear I might be contagious. Goodbye!”
“Thank you, floral shirtwaist dress. From you I learned that full skirts shouldn’t be worn on windy days unless the wearer intends to become an exhibitionist. Goodbye!”
“Thank you, white linen blouse. From you I learned that the whiter and more expensive the blouse, the bigger, darker and more stain-resistant the splash of barbecue sauce. Goodbye!”
And so on.
Once I’d gone through about half the closet, there was nothing in my keep-it pile but a pair of flip-flops, some threadbare jeans, and an oversized chambray shirt that technically belongs to Jimmie. At this rate, I’d soon be parading down Main Street in my birthday suit. And believe me, there’s not a person alive who wants that to happen.
I also doubt my retained treasures would serve as much of an office wardrobe. Furthermore, if I were to show up at the Baptist church next
Sunday wearing any or all of the above, my little 80-something-year-old mama would knock the living daylights out of me with her New International Version (the big one with the expanded footnotes and reference resources) and send me home to change.
To me, joyful clothing is on the well-worn, almost shabby side of comfort – which is fine if I never leave home. But in terms of practicality, my session of decluttering using joy as the sole criteria was a failure.
I was willing to admit, however, that other people may view the whole thing differently. So I asked a couple of friends for their thoughts.
One said, “If I were to use that method, I’d have nothing but wine and chocolate in my house.”
Another said that while she’d consider using such a method, she might have to draw the line at some point. “It would be hard to throw one of the kids out when they act up,” she said. “Or my husband when I don’t get my way.”
Her family members would do well to note that she said it would be “hard” to put them on the discard pile, but not impossible.
Which brings up a whole ‘nother issue with this decluttering business: What if things just aren’t going your way, or you’re down in the dumps on the day you decide to clear things out, and nothing brings you joy?
In that case, I recommend you send the family to the movies, shove all the piles of stuff back into the closet or under the bed, and bring out the wine and chocolate. But before anybody comes home, be sure to declutter your immediate surroundings by shoving the candy wrappers into the empty bottle and hiding it in the bottom of the trash.
Now don’t you feel more joyful just thinking about it? Yeah, I figured. You can thank me and tell me what you learned from me later.
Email June Mathews at firstname.lastname@example.org.——