We moved house a few weeks ago. I tried to throw away lots of stuff.
As instructed by Marie Kondo, I asked every item if it gave me joy. The problem is, the answer was almost always yes. I love things.
Why does that feel like an AA confession? Why does it feel so naughty and materialistic and wrong to like things? It wasn’t working very well, so I changed the question.
How long will you give me joy for? And is there any joy beyond the surface, or is it passing joy? Then suddenly, the job became really easy.
Out went the old CDs. I made a Spotify playlist of them instead. Flipping through them gave me great joy, but I don’t have any way of playing them anyway.
Out went the dresses which graze terrifyingly close to inappropriate. The memory of wearing them gave me joy. The reality of them slightly horrifying. Away.
Out went the empty perfume bottles, the joy from their scent long gone. I am still not Coco Chanel, despite years of harbouring her glass vials. Time to go.
And out went the mugs I never choose, the magazines i’ll never re-read, the factory-made plastic pen pots and neoprene laptop cases for laptops which I no longer own.
But I kept some surprising things. A beautiful dressing-table set with brushes which I don’t even know what they are for, but it was made very carefully by somebody once and makes my bedroom feel very chic.
And I kept things which when I bought them had felt like a real stretch, but which are still going strong and have years left in them: very smart Chelsea boots which had me on baked beans for a few weeks in my early twenties; really luxe pillows which I am grateful for every night; little paintings which I couldn’t afford when I bought them, but now love more than anything else I own.
I also kept every single Kalinko product i’ve ever had. They’ve all lasted. They all give me joy. They all transport me to Burma in my mind. They all make me think of the people who made them. I feel good about the fact that the job that item is doing isn’t being done by a factory-made equivalent.
It has been the most brilliant exercise. It’s very liberating being surrounded only by the things which make make you happy and will do so for a long time, for all sorts of reasons. Living with fewer, better things. Taking more time to choose the right thing. Buying once and buying well.