Artifacts: Cultivating Delight
One of my continuing interests has always been what the physical objects which we create and with which we surround ourselves say about us, both as individuals and as a society.
Who does not walk into someone else's living space and eye the collection of books, or music, or video to help form some opinion of the person who lives there?
Our possessions are both archival (what we treasure about our pasts) and aspirational (what we hope to accomplish in our future). When we feel overwhelmed by our possessions, a need to purge them, it's evidence that we need to move on from some impediment, some shackle to the past or illusory future.
People tend to foist stuff on us (think spam mail) and we find it hard to say no. Tidying up is the physical first step to regaining our sense of self, to assessing our own true needs and desires.
In writing these little meditations on "what we keep", I came across Marie Kondo and her konmari
method for taking control of clutter. Her method is far closer to my own than say, the Puritan-style "Clutterers Anonymous". Cleaning isn't about focusing on what to get rid of, on shaming people to get rid of their stuff. (Apparently so they can buy new stuff and keep the consumerist economy going.) No. No. No. It's about focusing on what to keep, those things that bring us delight.
When I sit here drinking my tea, I consider my cup. And yes, it brings me delight. Because I was quite poor in my youth, I always spent a great deal of time carefully weighing the characteristics of any purchase until finding just the thing that brought that spark of delight. If I didn't find it, I didn't buy it. (For example, I didn't own a couch until my late 30s).
When I look at my tea cup, I also think of the Japanese tea ceremony, which is about truly appreciating (paying attention to) the present moment, the radiance of the ordinary. Every time I look at this cup it makes me happy. I just have to remember to look.
So ends my long introduction to the linked story which examines the KonMari Method from the perspective of an economist. I think it will be interesting to those of you who prefer a less lyrical explanation. #whatwekeep #theradianceoftheordinary