This article by Patrick Lenton was originally published in Daily Life
If you haven’t heard about Marie Kondo by now (the Japanese organising consultant who has revolutionised the art of decluttering), then I can only assume it’s because you live in a stinking pit and your friends have already given up hope for you!
Regardless, the gist of her neat little bestselling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organising is that, unlike the title of the book, minimalism is the path to true happiness. The best way to summarise her strategy of achieving this life-altering minimalism is to consider each object individually, decide if it gives you joy, and get rid of it if it doesn’t. Simple!
However, while people around the world have been swearing by her methods, I’m here to tell you that there is in fact a more efficient method of minimisation that makes Kondo’s disciples look like that hoarder down the street whose body was mummified beneath seven tonnes of Readers Digest magazines.
And what is this magic decluttering method? Why, simply an emotionally harrowing and desperately sad breakup of your long term relationship! Here’s how we do it:
Lesson 1: Do your belongings bring you joy
Have a look at the physical remnants of your life together – that old DVD player, your bookshelf, your winter coat, your collection of old spoons – now ask yourself genuinely if you these articles actually bring you joy. Think about it. Really explore your feelings. Then realise that you can no longer feel joy because your life has just been irrevocably changed for the worse. Throw all your belongings away and see if drinking gin will bring you joy instead.
Lesson 2: Try to work out if you actually own anything anymore
Walk around your house with your ex, pointing at things. “Do I own the washing machine? What about the coffee table? What about the couch? The microwave? What about the clothes I’m literally wearing on my body right now?” You don’t own any of it, they’re all hand-me-downs from your ex’s mother. There’s nothing more minimal than leaving your house with only a Sega Saturn, a broken clothes horse and an escalating sense of panic about your life.
Lesson 3: Ask your new room mate Chad if the house needs anything
Chad seems pretty cool, and the sprawling share house you’ve just interviewed for might need some of the belongings that you and your partner went shopping for at Ikea on multiple Sundays of the past, laughing as you wandered the Swedish maze, choking on meatballs and any sense of future doom.
“Sorry duderino…” says Chad. Turns out they already have a couple of beer fridges, and the corpses of years of old couches mouldering in the backyard. But Chad, who really does seem like a chill guy, would appreciate some toilet paper.
Lesson 4: What do you physically need to live
Now that you’ve gotten through steps 1-3, you’re ready to seriously consider what the bare essentials for living are. You need some clothes to cover your body so the police don’t ride you down and arrest you for public nudity. You probably need to eat, although honestly your appetite hasn’t been great, so you should take your box of gluten free muesli with you. It’s probably worth getting a bed so that you have somewhere to hide from the dreadful reality of your situation.
Can you be bothered moving that clothes rack?
Turns out that your ex doesn’t want your crumbling clothes rack and paintings of dogs playing Magic the Gathering, so your next minimalist technique is deciding whether or not you have even the spark of energy necessary to physically move those to your new house.
Look deep inside yourself – do you have the physical and emotional strength necessary to do this? Of course not, your life is trash. Book a council cleanup online and chuck them on the sidewalk. Chuck your Marie Kondo book along with them. Put on a long robe and sip from a large glass of white wine and watch the council remove these things from your window.
Lesson 6: Uh oh, you bought a backpack
Did you go and read Wild or Eat, Pray, Love? Looks like you did. Now you’ve got a backpack, some hiking boots, a whistle to scare away a bear and you’re telling the only friends you managed to retain that you’re going away to find yourself.
Look, you might as well I suppose, because it’s not like anything is keeping you here. You’ve got no relationship, no dog, your job’s a joke, you’re broke, and Chad is really excited to have another bro around the place. Due to the magic of the breakup system of decluttering, you are now so minimal that your entire life is an empty, whistling landscape, as cold and sparse and devoid of belongings as the icefields of a distant planet. Congratulations, you are as minimal as you can be.
So while you’re out reinventing yourself, get swept away with the huge amount of possibilities you now have. You could do and be anything. You could even reinvent yourself as a goose. As a goose, take a look at your belongings: those rushes where you lay your eggs, your eggs, your honking goose snout. Do they bring you joy? Of course, you’re a goose. Now, migrate for the winter. New year, new you.