I’ve finished the first discard stage of the KonMari Project: clothing. Yes, I own fewer clothes now, although the results weren’t as dramatic as some of the anecdotes from Kondō’s books. Having gone through every piece of clothing I own, I filled nine kitchen trash bags and took them to Goodwill. The difference isn’t all that noticeable in my closet, except that it’s now much easier for me to hang up what’s left because it’s not so tightly packed. I managed to empty three dresser drawers, though, and the underbed storage boxes no longer resemble sardine tins. Success!
I found the discarding process interesting psychologically, beyond just the thrill of piling up no-longer-wanted clothes. Kondō recommends that you do your weeding by yourself without distractions, not even music playing. Okay, not my preference, but again, trying it her way first. So not only did I work without music, but I spoke out loud to everything I discarded, thanking it, like she suggests. (Okay, that was a lot easier to do without other people around! 😀 ) It didn’t take long before I was talking to everything, stating as clearly as I could why I was or wasn’t keeping it. This is something I learned from studying the tarot: say your readings out loud (or write them down) even if you’re reading for yourself, because this forces you to put your intuitions into words and be conscious of them.
Most of the time, I already knew why I didn’t like a particular item, and all I needed to do was admit this and let it go. But doing this weeding Kondō’s way, by picking each item up and mindfully considering it, led to a few surprises. For instance, last spring, I’d bought a pinpoint Oxford cloth shirt. I like Oxford cloth shirts, the shirt fit well, and I loved the color: an unusually deep blue. Yet I’d only worn it once or twice. So I knew something was wrong, but I didn’t know what. I picked it up and began to list the reasons I liked it—and heard myself say, “I don’t like how you feel against my skin.” Given a moment to think about it, I realized it was true. Sure, the shirt looks great. But there’s something about the texture that repels me. I’d managed to ignore that because I was distracted by the pretty blue color, but handling the shirt and talking to it brought those feelings to consciousness. When I looked for my other pinpoint Oxford cloth shirts, I found them all already in the discard pile. My regular Oxford cloth shirts? All back in the closet. If I go no further with the KonMari Project than this, I’ve at least learned never to spend money on anything made from pinpoint Oxford cloth, no matter how beautiful it is (and I thanked the blue shirt for teaching me that).
I’m fascinated, though, by how that reason came right out of my mouth without my conscious intention. If I’d ignored Kondō’s advice to speak out loud as I made my decisions, I doubt I’d have learned anything. I would have silently listed all those good, solid reasons for why I liked the shirt, and likely ended up keeping it. Because, you know, I’d already spent money on it, and maybe I’d wear it more if I told myself to do so, and it really was a lovely shade of blue… The talking out loud bit makes it harder to rationalize away your feelings, and it gives your intuition a chance to make itself heard. Literally.
This is the sort of thing I’d hoped to get from the KonMari Project: not just a reduction in my material possessions, nifty though that is, but better knowledge of what I like and don’t like, which basically means better knowledge of who I am. A lot of the clothing I got rid of was fine when I bought it—it matched the person I was at that time. Gradually, I changed, and I stopped wearing the clothes that didn’t go with the person I’d become. But I’d never really acknowledged that change, except in the most general way: I’m getting older or When I was in my thirties…. And so I didn’t think to let go of the clothing that no longer worked.
Oh, and I did look at Kondō’s suggestions for storing the clothes you keep. Okay, fine, I’m folding my socks and putting them in rows in the drawers. I’m not convinced that the socks care one way or the other, but I admit that this takes up far less space than rolling them into balls. But I’m not committing to anything beyond this yet!