I came across an ad in The New Yorker for a book called spark joy, an extended rumination on tidying. In the introduction the author summarizes her philosophy:

If you are confident that something brings you joy, keep it, regardless of what anyone else might say. Even if it isn’t perfect, no matter how mundane it might be, when you use it with care and respect, you transform it into something priceless. As you repeat this selection process, you increase your sensitivity to joy.

I thought of this today when looking for something in my filing cabinet: I came across a file folder labeled “Eatons Account” containing statements for an Eatons store credit card I had during the chain’s brief resurrection, under Sears’ ownership, in 2000.

The credit card stopped working when Sears shut down Eatons in 2002, and so the file folder contains 14 year old statements that I haven’t consulted since then.

Not only does the file folder not “spark joy” in me now, it didn’t back then (although that epic aubergine commercial the relaunched Eatons aired admittedly did).

I suspect that 95% of the stuff in my office and home falls into a similar category: kept around by its own inertia or by a vague promise of eventual usefulness (what if I want to find out how much that coat cost me at Eatons!?).

Given that it’s essentially spring outside, it might be time for some serious spring tidying.


Olle Jonsson's picture
Olle Jonsson on March 1, 2016 - 02:22

Spring cleaners of the world, unite.

A friend asked me to hang around his apartment to make doing the dishes less of a chore. That was nice.

Ton Zijlstra's picture
Ton Zijlstra on March 1, 2016 - 04:44

I've been doing a lot of clearing out in the past months. First when working to clear out my parents household, and then as a consequence in our own home. I've thrown out enormous amounts, and you can't even really see it. Although I thought we already were somewhat minimalistic. I read a similar book (maybe by the same, Japanese, author?) heading into all this, and it certainly helped understand the reflexes that block throwing something out: thinking it somehow negates the positive emotions an object once signified, or indecision (it might be useful at some point....). Disconnecting the object from emotions (e.g. by taking a picture of it, Bruce Sterling Reboot style), and shifting indecision to mean it cannot stay, were extremely helpful these past months.

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