I have embarked upon the KonMari method of tidying my home and my life. And it is a lot of damned work! To collect all of your things is, in itself, a huge task. To go through all of them is even more of a struggle.
But it is also a gift.
This morning, I went through all the stacks of paper that have accumulated on my desk as I sought to cleanse the past from my file boxes. When I initially began this project, I had five stacks of paper: theology stuff, philosophy stuff, sexuality stuff, resources, and the pile where things I couldn’t decide upon waited for further consideration. And I fully intended to neatly file the remaining papers, and felt proud that I had accomplished creating a big bag of items to remove from my space. After I began the art of tidying, and touched every item, and considered whether or not it sparked joy in me, I took those five stacks and narrowed them to about eleven pages, leaving two huge bags that I cannot carry for the trash heap.
Eleven pages. That is all that sparked joy out of the mounds of items that I had previously thought I must or I wanted or I needed to keep.
The KonMari method is a way of choosing what you love. And you do this by physically handling every item. When I first began the process, and began touching each sheet of paper, I thought this would take me years to get through just the items on my desk. But I was wrong. I began to know immediately the things that I touched which touched my heart. I sprinted through the process of cleaning my desk. It took less than an hour to find the beautiful Wonder Woman covered work surface, and to feel free of all of that paper.
Just touching it let me know whether I loved it or not. Just the feeling.
I’ve spent most of my life repressing one feeling or another, and in the process became an unfeeling being—untouched by what surrounded me and dissociating from the world and from myself. Distance from feelings is sort of the norm for a lot of people in my history. Somehow stoicism and “strength” have been placed in honor and to not show emotion or break down or cry have been ways that people around me approached life.
But that way of approaching life sucks.
Once those walled off places in my being where all the emotions were being stuffed began to crack, a flood of emotion happened. And with that flood of emotion came care and compassion and love and passion and desire and purpose. All of those things are good. But in pushing back the anger or frustration or fear or confusion in my life, I was also making it impossible to wade in the waters of all those beautiful things. They are all mixed together. You can’t hide one and hold another. You either feel or you don’t.
Feeling things can be really difficult at times … especially those times that bring up the anger or frustration or fear or confusion. But feeling things can also be amazing and awe-inspiring and utterly fabulous! And understanding that both are natural and normal, and that judgments of “good” or “bad” or “right” or “wrong” are not helpful or correct, but embracing all of them as a part of the human experience, brings great freedom and joy.
I am finding joy in eleven pages today. I am finding joy in letting go of what doesn’t help me and embracing that which does. I am finding joy in accepting that things serve us well for a time, and then we must send them on their way. I am finding joy in touching and feeling and embracing and releasing.
There is another method that I am reminded of during this process. Morita therapy is something that my daughter introduced me to, and it has become a great help, which parallels my experience with the KonMari method in some ways. Morita therapy is based in accepting emotions—recognizing them and honoring them, but not necessarily needing to act upon them. You feel all of the things, and judge none of them as good or bad, right or wrong, but just let them be. Then you hold what you wish and release what you don’t wish to hold. You just let the feelings come and go. You needn’t act upon them. So, when you feel anger, it is valid, but you needn’t punch people as a result. You simply feel the anger, let it be present, and then send it on its way. When you feel anxiety, or happiness, or fear, or peace, or whatever emotion may be present, you let it be felt and validate its presence, and then choose to act or not to act upon that feeling. This is a rather simplistic explanation of the method, but explaining more fully would take up too many words and too much of my time. You can easily find more information on Morita, just Google that shit. (Technology is fabulous sometimes!)
So, I sit at my very clean desk, and I think about feeling. I think about touching my belongings and how easily I can feel whether a thing brings me joy or not. And I think about touching my soul, and how it should probably be just as easy to know which emotions and thoughts and actions will bring me joy. But for some reason it isn’t.
I blame conditioning by a patriarchal heteronormative society.
I blame lots and lots of things on conditioning by a patriarchal heteronormative society. It deserves to carry that blame. It really screws up a multitude of things.
Somehow “strength” became synonymous with not showing emotion—that stoicism that I mentioned earlier. And that meant building walls. And even after they broke and the flood happened I kept trying to rebuild the walls. Society wanted me to, after all. Seeing and experiencing someone else’s flood makes your own walls crack a little. So, avoiding anyone’s emotions seems a safe route to keeping your own walled in. And when you fight for such a long time to patch walls, it becomes a struggle to do anything but … even when you know the patching is futile and robs you of the ability to fully experience joys and passions and loves. It becomes a struggle to know yourself and accept your feelings. It becomes a challenge to keep the walls down. You keep feeling like you ought to put them back up. And you feel vulnerable when you are walking around town without walls while all the others around you are locked behind rows and rows of brick and mortar.
But vulnerability is strength. It brings happiness. It offers you a more fulfilling life. And it frees you to feel all emotions, and to experience the fullness of humanity.
So, today I am vowing to touch all the things, and to feel everything—every part of my life, both internal and external—and to release what isn’t helping me and to hold what sparks joy.
And it is going to be a lot of damned work!
But it is also going to be a gift.