Monday, May 1, 2017

Tidying Your Mindfulness

Just before the end of the semester, a colleague of mine had her composition class read the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. As an assignment, they were to tidy their room and write about it. She pointed out that most of them would be moving, so it seemed like the right moment. Even though it was a bestseller when it was published in 2015, I hadn't heard of it, so I requested it from the library and got it over the weekend.

Yes, it is the last week of the semester, so perhaps I was ready for the book or already thinking in this direction. By Monday I had taken three garbage bags to Goodwill and the used toner cartridges to Office Depot. Two boxes of books await the used bookstore. I dusted for the first time in (I'm not going to say). The book gave me a way to look at my stuff: handle each item. If it doesn't "spark joy," then as you discard it, thank it for the good times it gave you. I was surprised to find many things I didn't really need or want anymore. Thanking each gave me permission to let it go and reflect that I did like it once, it may have brought me joy once, but it is okay that it doesn't anymore. What the book really offers is connection to your life and mindfulness in your home.

Outside: a different kind of mindfulness. I had already been weeding the terrible plants that grow spiral burrs, sitting close to the ground with my bucket and tools. Sitting in one place for an hour at a time means the world comes to you, if you notice it. This past week's sitting outside in the yard gave me experiences, stories that my neighbors brought me that I can now incorporate into fictional stories of my own. I watched crows have a meeting, and tiny birds watched me. I discovered something interesting about my letter carrier. I was aware of all the different bugs and worms I don't often see. While I did not thank the weeds for these events, maybe I should.

The cleaning and weeding reminded me that I needed to make more space for the physical world. I have been tending to create computer-based projects lately, tending blogs and websites, editing digital photographs. Not nearly as much time as I used to spend handling objects. Marie Kondo, the book's author, writes that when you tidy, you find out what is important to you, and you may even discover your life's work by what you keep. The tidying helped to clear my mind. Just like the book promised. It sounds too good to be true, but I'm hopeful. We'll see what's next.



Just outside the classroom door.



1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Alisa, thank you for sharing your experience with this process. It is always exciting to hear about hands on applications of seemingly far-flung "methods". And of course, a willingness to show up and attend to one's stuff is never easy but always courageous. Onward to more joy!