What can Marie Kondo teach us about Rest?


I’m a Marie Kondo believer. Tidying convert. Slave to the spark of Joy. But not everyone likes Marie Kondo. “back away from my books” scream the bibliophiles, “how dare she suggest it will improve my life, my anxiety, my fears.” write the unhappy, the stuck. After the launch of her Netflix special, I watched the praise and the hate roll in.

I’m less interested in the praise, because I agree with it. Her method works. I’m interested in the reasons why people don’t. Take the books for example. In an article in the Guardian, the author argues that not all her books bring her joy; some bring sadness, suffering, disgust even, but that doesn’t mean she should get rid of them. But this is not the point. Despite the emotions that arise when reading that book, it can still spark joy for you. The joy of displaying it on the shelf. The satisfaction you feel from having gained that knowledge, immersed yourself in the story. It’s still joy. It’s just wearing a disguise.

The thing you don’t want to do is the work. The hard work of going through ALL of your books one at a time. Do I want this? Do I want this? If you do this with all one thousand and one of your books and decide that a thousand are worth keeping, great. The going through it, the seeing everything you own in a pile on the floor, the sheer mass and size of it, *that* is the point as much as the space on the shelf that follows.

So what does this have to do with rest? Well, at first rest can be like seeing every item of clothing you own piled up on the bed.  The sheer size of it is enough to wish you’d never started. “I feel more stressed when I do nothing” you might think “its easier for me to relax while doing something” you might tell yourself. Wrong. If you have the courage, and the humility to sit with that pile, that mountain, for just a short while, it gets smaller. And then it gets smaller. And then its just a few items, neatly folded, in a cute little box. What was a mountain becomes manageable. It makes space for joy.   

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