I may have mentioned Marie Kondo and her magical tidy method a few times before.
‘ere’s the rub:
When you are young you mainly look forward. You look to the future. You are unstoppable; and “old” stuff like outmoded toys and too-small clothes get thrown out with delight as “holding you back”. Sentimentality is a no-no, it’s “not modern” (it already wasn’t “modern” many generations back).
You can’t understand why old people “hoard” seemingly worthless stuff. Why hold onto that chipped old cup?
As you grow, you come to realize that there is this memento from a moment you spent with your parents, maybe the last one, and the reason you are never throwing that trinket away, is because it triggers that memory every time you look at it. Or the champagne glasses you used at your wedding – just two, for you and your spouse. Throw them out? Never! The first fluffy toy your baby ever owned. She doesn’t need that little bear anymore, but you? You hang onto it because you can still see that blissful little angel sleeping with teddy clutched against her. Photos that were never taken; a gallery of memories.
Much of the mess in our current teenage household is functional mess, stuff that was used (or gets used all the time) and hasn’t been put back into its correct place. It swims around “in RAM”, so to speak. But behind that mess lurks the clutter – memory gallery triggers.
Throwing them out is telling them that you don’t need those memories anymore. Because without the trigger around, how often will you actually think back to those moments?
People who hoard clutter are actually addicted to the past.
This is why older people’s houses tend to get more, not less, cluttered (even though the functional mess tends to go away with its perpetrators). As people get older, there is more past to remember and less future to look forward to. And a person who has lost her vision can bury herself in clutter.
It’s school holiday, which is clear-up time. (Every day is jolly clear-up time, but more so in the holidays.) We tackle more than the functional mess; we tackle the clutter. Outgrown clothes, outdated toys, etc (hardly any of these around now).
I don’t know why I’m writing this messy, cluttered post, except to say that the reason people hoard, is because they are desperately trying to hang onto their past – our past is what shapes who we are. Modern pop-psychology tries to convince us that we can be whoever we like, but the fact is that our childhood lives within us no matter who we decide we want to be from now on. And our young adult past. Past relationships, past occupations, past knowledge. Our brains are cluttered too, with knowledge or experience of tons of unrelated things.
Who are we indeed?
And what’s left of us when we go unwillingly into that “good night”? Basically, our memories – and the memories others have of us.
That’s why it’s so darned difficult to throw out clutter. Even broken clutter. The memory that is attached, is not broken.
I’m not writing this as a crit for Konmari who I think is absolutely awesome. I’m writing it in defense of having a home that doesn’t look like an office. A bit messy, a bit cluttered, and stack-full of memories.