A few years ago, I recall a friend of mine raving about “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” Back then I found it quite odd for a trend to be so focused on tidying up and decluttering. At the back of my mind, I was wondering why this suddenly became a lifestyle trend because my entire life has been built on my mother’s lifelong mantra, if you do not need it, toss it.”
Growing up, I have witnessed my mom give away toys, clothes, and books (I still sorely miss my huge collection of Baby-Sitters Club Books, Berenstain Bears, and Sweet Valley High) that were no longer needed. My mom is a woman obsessed with keeping everything at home clean and organized. My dad would often say that if she could, she would throw him away too. My mom, even before it was a trend, believed that a home was not a place for clutter because just like Marie Kondo she believed that a cluttered home brought bad energy.
I will not pretend to have read or even watched the Netflix show that shares about the Japanese trend set by the gorgeous and organized Marie Kondo. For one thing, just like Mindy Lahiri, I have been extremely opposed to it only because I grew up doing it. I remember dedicating summer afternoons back when I was a student rearranging my room and throwing away anything that I did not have a positive association with. I also threw away my angst filled journals from my teenage years.
Because of how my mom raised our household, my brother and I were programmed to always declutter. We were trained to take a look at our belongings to see which items other people could have better use for and to only purchase things that we would use on a daily basis. I’d like to think that in her own way, my mom was teaching us to have a relationship with our belongings that “sparked joy.”
This is the reason why we have no attachment to things and how easily we can give away what we no longer need so we can make room for new things to come. My mom, along with my dad who has later on developed her philosophy, always reminded us that sometimes we need to let go of things so we can make room for something new.
And this is one that can be applied to life. We let go so better things can fall into place. If we don’t — our lives, much like our rooms, become so full that we do not have room to breathe or even welcome new beginnings.
So looking at it from that perspective, I now gain a better understanding of why this trend is catching on like wildfire. We let go of the clutter in our rooms, and eventually in our lives, so we can have a life that sparks joy for us. This may mean letting go of things that once brought us joy but no longer do and there is nothing wrong with that.
I believe this is why Marie thanks whatever it is that she is giving away – it is because she is allowing herself to say thank you for the joy you once sparked but no longer do. It’s always easy to let go of things that did not bring us joy but to let go of what once did takes courage. Because it is only when we do so that we open our lives for the many possibilities ahead.
So mom, if you’re reading this, thank you for always encouraging me to clean my room because it is this philosophy that frames my life. Truly, mothers know best.