From Where I Sit – Vicious Cycle

For someone who considers herself a visual person I sure have a lot of hiding places. Nowhere has this been more obvious than when I tackled the cleaning, clearing, organizing, and general purging of my office.

The impulse to start the project came during yet another delay in the 2015 harvest. Even though the room is small, at only one hundred square feet, the job is not. I began in one corner of the room tackling both the interior and the surfaces of the white upper and lower kitchen cabinets we built in during a renovation some time ago to provide closed storage. The counter holds a fax machine, printer, some books, and a three-drawer wooden storage box.

I used the large, flat surface of our bed to collect the different storage options I found. It was quite the collection, both in sheer numbers and variety. There were several covered square tins from my Fossil watches. There were beautiful carved wooden boxes, purple faux suede storage boxes, and a three-piece set of brown leather covered nesting boxes, among other things. Remember when trays were de rigueur for corralling and displaying functional items or objet d’art? Naturally I’ve got trays, too, including a handmade ceramic one from Japan. Round boxes, gift boxes, pencil cups, metal tins, and tiny ceramic bowls can display and protect virtually anything you can imagine. And they were.

The New York Times best-seller, The Life-changing Magic of Tidying up, by Marie Kondo, describes the Japanese art of de-cluttering and organizing. Westerners with all manner of space can learn something.

Kondo’s method requires that you sort by category, not location. You need to collect ALL like objects in one place (usually the living-room floor) to, once and for all, see the full volume of the items you’re considering. So if you were to sort hair products you’d collect the bottles from the vanity, the tub edge, the storage closet, the basement, and anywhere else they may be lurking. That is truly the only way to know you’ve got six bottles of shampoo, three hair sprays, four round brushes, two flat irons, and a partridge in a pear tree. Likewise with your sock drawer, t-shirt collection, books (gasp), handbags, papers, photos?everything. She prescribes the order of your work to go from easiest (clothing?tops to shoes) to hardest (photos).

Kondo’s de-cluttering method insists that each item be physically touched. And while holding the object you ask yourself ’Does this spark joy?’ Keep only those items that speak to your heart and part with the rest. And, while I haven’t had the time to try her method, it intrigues me.

But I need to ponder my opening sentence. How can I reconcile the need to ’see’ my stuff with the desire to hide what isn’t attractive? If I don’t see something I forget I have it. If I forget I have it, I don’t use and enjoy it or I might buy another one. It’s a damn vicious cycle, from where I sit.

Hazel Anaka’s first novel is Lucky Dog. Visit her website for more information or follow her on Twitter @anakawrites.

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