Once upon a time, I was a nimble mover—light as a feather, going places without a care, no car needed! When I ventured into my current apartment, it was a solo, car-free expedition. Back then, I didn’t have much stuff, and life was easy-breezy. But fast forward to now, and I find myself wondering how on earth I’ll manage the next move. Even with my trusty Mini, the thought of relocating everything feels like a puzzle waiting to be solved. Does it mean I’m “aging”?
The Konmari method is a softer approach to minimalism from the Zen sect of Buddhism. In Buddhist teachings, equanimity, or peace of mind, is achieved by detaching oneself from the cycle of craving that produces dukkha. So by achieving a mental state where you can detach from all the passions, needs and wants of life, you free yourself and achieve a state of transcendent bliss and well-being.
When I went back to Japan last year, I was talking to my nephew. He’s a brilliant kid, but he told me he’s been having a problem with organizing stuff. He can’t let things go. So it takes time for him to find what he needs when he does. As a “wise” aunt, I introduced him to the Konmari method, urging him to keep only what sparks joy in his heart.
He replied with a smile, “Everything speaks to my heart. That’s why I can’t let them go.”
Did I say he’s a brilliant kid? We often say that we should let go the clothes we didn’t wear in the past xx years. But how can I let them go if they’re from my mother or grandmother.
My mother was a fashionista—oh, the fabulous array of clothes she owned! People of all ages took cues from her stylish choices. Boutiques even sought her opinion before the masses, for she was the ultimate trendsetter. Naturally, I imagined inheriting her marvelous collection someday.
Yet, when the unexpected blow of stage 4 pancreatic cancer struck last year, she did something unexpected. She let go of it all. Every. Thing. Her jewelry, purses, kimonos, coats, dresses, even her treasured china, collectable coins, and furniture. Everything vanished, like a swirling fashion whirlwind.
Feeling puzzled, I inquired, “Mom, didn’t you save anything for me?”
Her response was as enigmatic as her style, “Of course, Miyo. I kept a mourning dress for you. Trends change, and casual is the new chic. You should wear this for my funeral” With a smile, she presented me a sleek, cool black dress.
As I stood there, emotions swirling, I couldn’t help but wonder. Perhaps, in her own way, she had found liberation from material possessions. The black dress is the symbol of her newfound freedom.