I have to downsize, purge and sell the Rancho Atomico.
Watched all eight eps of the joy through tidying guru Marie Kondo on Netflix.
I have NASFLTG™ for all the vendors of respectability and bullshit virtue through tidying, and am very suspicious of all the New Thought/New Age platitudes around freeing the chi to flow, or, a hand clenched on possessions is not open to receive them. There’s a strong connection in these platitudes to prosperity gospel and tithing — you have to give money away to make it come to you. I am super suspicious of this, given that amassing fortunes off the credulous poor — and the morally depraved rich — is traditionally what churches excel in. I am also spiritually suspicious of the conflation of economics with the operation of karma. Karma explains a whole lot, almost everything, but as my BFF New Thought guru Emmet Fox points out, Jesus [insert preferred name] is the lord of karma. Ie., Love is the only presence and the only power. Not karma is a bitch, eat shit and die.
So what is Marie Kondo and joy through tidying all about?
The Merry Mystics and I chewed it over yesterday.
Value neutrality.
The goal is *joy* for you, not a standard of Marie’s. There is no Mean Mommy System of Ethics here, and if you think there is, that’s the first thing you need to get rid of.
What joy actually means is what makes purging so extremely difficult for everyone who attempts it.
Marie also is aware of how guilty people feel letting things they think they “should” keep go. For this reason, she has them say thank you to every parting item.
I have noticed saying thank you to every dirty dish I wash gets them very clean in about 1/20th of the time. And fills me with gratitude for the splendid eating and cooking life I lead, and the bounty of the world. Classic brother Lawrence moment: Can you smoke a cigarette while praying? No, grasshopper, bad form. Can you pray while smoking a cigarette? Sure as shooting.
Presence in this eternal moment.
Not your 20-year-old skinny clothes, the remnants of your dead self.
Not your dead husband’s clothes. Or your adult children’s second grade papers.
Or the first edition books a cheating husband bought you 40 years ago on the way out the door.
Or your dead partner’s library of esoteric art history books she left to a university, not to you.
No other gods before me.
Emmet Splains this biggie here.
“….God is something that we have with us every day, in the most prosaic and ordinary things. God is not just an abstract idea up in the sky, having no meaning in everyday life. That concept is going. All kinds of people, all over the world, are beginning to get the sense of God as a present, dynamic, real power for harmony, for healing, and for freedom.”
Is it really your skinny clothes or your dead partner’s books which confer form on you, or her? God with skin on? God in the details? Is the ritual labor of chopping wood, carrying water that which actually makes you exist? Will you actually become the hole in the doughnut if you give all those soul-murdering inherited antiques away?
We really believe in the power of our things, and the aspirations they symbolize, to confer form upon our selves or the departed. One reason Philip Larkin’s famous poem, *Home Is So Sad* has so much power to floor us. It’s about the lacuna our things outline. Dang.
Home is so sad. It stays as it was left,
Shaped to the comfort of the last to go
As if to win them back. Instead, bereft
Of anyone to please, it withers so,
Having no heart to put aside the theft
And turn again to what it started as,
A joyous shot at how things ought to be,
Long fallen wide. You can see how it was:
Look at the pictures and the cutlery.
The music in the piano stool. That vase.
Joy, whatever that may be, fills the lacuna. It is our authentic being and self, co-created with God.
I suspect it has to do with something New Thought BFF Emma Curtis Hopkins writes about. The joy of walking through the created universe, the universe of thingness through which God’s abundance and agency for manifestation shine. I can’t find her precise quote right now, and this one has more engagement with the dogma of crucifixion than I can understand, but the idea that this universe of *stuff* is blessed is at its core.
“Let us acknowledge before God, that we walk through a redeemed, healed, unpunishable world, because of the vicarious suffering of Jesus of Nazareth. He, being all God-hood, was and is forever Christ Jesus – or God Jesus – the living manifestation of what humanity can do and be by recognition of their own son-ship to Omnipotence.”
One of the Merry Mystics has an immortal aphorism.
“When all else fails, face reality.”
Make your reality and your stuff coherent.
If they’re not, let your stuff tell you where you need to go.
Whenever some American Buddhist, high-hatting it in their scrupulosity, starts to sweat the Dalai Lama about eating meat, he says, I am a begging monk. I eat what you put into my bowl. SNAP.
Being at the cutting edge of my life instead of behind it, pushing this vast mass of *stuff* forward.
What if the mother God, the Shekhinah, the hurricane goddess of justice Oya, the Holy Spirit who comes down here and sits with us when miracles are required, was in charge of my stuff? She who only wants a cup which runneth over for me?
What makes one’s life worth living now is waterproofing hiking boots. Or, a grey scale printer instead a color one. Or vice versa. A good microplane. Pants that fit. Soft grey Forever21 Overcast nail polish instead of OPI Linkin Park After Dark. A file to sharpen the primo secateurs by hand. The $800 I phone with the entire works of Beethoven and Little Richard on it. Or the $12 AARP clam shell flip phone all the kids laugh at when you whip it out. Real crewel weight sewing yarn to mend invisibly the wool scarves the moths ate.
Having all-weather dog-walking clothes for the dog I now walk and the climate I now live in, including foot cream, footies, walking sneakers and sun hats which are not what an old boyfriend used to call “old fart hats”. You know the ones he meant.
Not including clip on, windproof fisherman’s hats, Wellies, raincoats, duck shoes, deck shoes. Including stick sun screen, lotion sunscreen, spray-your-left-arm-sizzling-in- the-desert-sun-like-carcinogenic-bacon-while-hurtling-down-the-interstate sun screen. Including the expensive dog car seat, so the 9-1/2-pounder can see out the window and not be thrown to the floor every time you step on the brakes.
Not having a fabric stash, but a yarn stash instead. Which means altering storage units and finding somebody who wants your fabric stash. (Hint: Hand loom people.) Not a yarn stash, but a fine cotton crochet string stash (different storage, who to unload the yarn on. Hint: Women’s rehabs, where knitting is taught as self-soothingly therapeutic. Or ask your local hip yarn shop.). Not crochet, but felt. Not felt but yeast-raised dough baking. Not dough, but colored pencil sketches of plankton. Etc..
Marie is an energy reader. Things have it too. Stuff has it. One reason stuff is aspirational and so hard to let go of when that aspiration is over. No Cartesian/Puritannical aversion to stuff here. The Japanese are not Puritannical. Own your stuff. It is your created world, and God’s.