The success of the book is partly attributable to the fact that it was published at a time when, in developed countries, many of us are overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of objects and possessions we have in our lives.
Capitalism and globalization have allowed the western world to exploit the labour of people living in other parts of the world, granting us access to everything we could ever want, and it’s too much—too much for the environment, too much for the fabric of our communities large and small, and too much for our homes and families.
That’s a lot to unpack, (literally!).
But Kondo’s book is apolitical and very comforting. And perhaps the central reason for her success, is that she re-frames the effort that so many of us seem to continually be making to streamline our lives, moving away from shame, towards love.
In Konmari terms (“Konmari” being the word the author has devised to describe her methods), ideas like “decluttering” or “downsizing” or “purging”, are not only unhelpful, but detrimental to her wider interest, which is helping to remind people of how to live with integrity.
Living with integrity means living in right relationship with ourselves, and the people with whom we share our lives. Kondo recommends beginning the “life-changing magic of tidying up” by first sitting down to delineate one’s values. So often, the objects we have surrounded ourselves with—perhaps haphazardly, or unthinkingly, or through the familiar process of seemingly random accumulation—do not actually reflect the person we want to be.
We are not our things. However, the things we surround ourselves with do, to a large extent, determine what we do, how we behave, and most importantly, how we feel.
Kondo recommends picking up every item in your home, perceiving it with your senses, recognizing it for what it is and what it’s done for you, and asking, Does this spark joy? Joy and love. These are the beginning and the end. If an object doesn’t spark joy, one should, according to Kondo, thank the thing, and release it from our homes, into the world.
Here at Little Cloud Kites, we do much of our kite-designing, making, packing and shipping with our kids in the background (or at the forefront!). LCK headquarters, the home of Leland and family, is a large, rambling, cozy, timber-framed, strawbale farmhouse that Leland and Tegan designed and built together. Making a home with another person, and raising children with that person, means compromise, and the cultivation of warmth of spirit, and also a constant push-pull between the stuff that surrounds us, the hustle and bustle of kids, and a desire for a bit of serenity.
A good friend of Little Cloud Kites suggested a term that describes the LCK family quite well (and maybe your family too)? And that is “chaortic”. Chaos, and order. Order and chaos. Sometimes it seems that we fluctuate between the two, back and forth. At other times, these two forces work in concert. And then, there are moments of imbalance, and the kite has to find its keel.
We think a lot, here at LCK, about the power of an object that is well-made, and made with love. For us, the kite is a thing that has immense value, in so many ways. Not only beautiful, sustainably produced, and created with love and attention, but kites are also imbued with a sense of possibility, purpose, story, vitality, and aliveness.
In a recent LCK meeting, we got side-tracked, and started communally dreaming of spring, and blue skies, and life and death, and someone mentioned how magical it is to imagine stunning Quetzal or Profound Love being discovered in an attic: perhaps covered in dust, maybe faded, a little bit. It could be that the string might need to be knotted here or there where the mice gnawed at it, for the lining of a nest. But we’re in it for the long-haul. And this is our mission, at Little CLoud Kites, too: to make an object that is so beautiful, and so timeless, and so well-crafted, that it will be recognizable as a thing of grace, and purpose, for many years to come.
To us, this is worth a hundred plastic gizmos. The wind ceremony we make from our kite, is worth a thousand more.