We’re a nation of clutter. We’re a society of packrats. We love our stuff.
We have large houses full of shit that threaten to swallow us.
Fortunately, Marie Kondo is here to help.
The author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and now the star of Netflix’s Tidying Up, Kondo encourages people to purge their stuff and reclaim their lives. Her methods caused a minor online sensation recently when she encouraged people to get rid of all of their unread books and only keep about thirty or so. This advice is not new – it’s also in her book – but in an incredible twist of irony, it only became a thing when it was shown on Netflix.
People became very upset with the notion of parting with their books – after watching it on their TV – not only because books can offer incredible wisdom and can even change your life, but also because people see books as something more than another entertainment product. They see books as art.
As an avid book collector, I agree. Keep your books. A wall full of books can be beautiful. They can be arranged by color or height or any number of other ways. The best libraries are gorgeous sanctuaries.
But you know what else can be art?
When you think of a museum, do you immediately conjure images of paintings and sculptures? Why? Why restrict yourself? There are museums dedicated to toilets and hair and instant ramen and broken relationships and plenty of other things.
How about broken glass?
Anything can be art.
A wall of vinyl records. A collection of DVDs. A collage of t-shirts. Sports memorabilia. All of these can be art. Some people collect paintings. Jerry Seinfeld and Jay Leno collect cars. Who would’ve thought that framing dead insects and butterflies would be considered art?
Art is subjective so if you find beauty and happiness in something, no matter what it is, it should become your art collection.
You have to be careful that your collection doesn’t become an obsession and you wind up keeping everything. That’s when we get into trouble. That’s when we watch Hoarders and see a reflection of our homes and where we live becomes nothing more than a glorified storage locker for your stuff.
As an aspiring minimalist with OCD tendencies who lives with someone that is not quite so fastidious, I support Kondo and champion her cause completely. We as humans consume too much crap and create too much trash. I prefer empty surfaces and sparse rooms. I abhor bric-à-brac.
But there is a balance.
At the risk of sounding like Tyler Durden, why do we need to be perfect? Why does the house have to always be immaculate? Get rid of what you don’t need or use, yes, but don’t get rid of something just because someone tells you to do so.
If you collect corks or bottle caps or stamps or back scratchers or traffic cones, keep doing it, regardless of what someone on the outside thinks. We work our entire lives just so we can afford things that bring us short moments of happiness.
So collect and display whatever it is that makes you happy. Create your own art gallery.
Otherwise, what are any of us doing here?
Christopher Pierznik is the author of nine books. Check out more of his writing at Medium. His work has appeared on XXL, Cuepoint, Business Insider, The Cauldron, Medium, Fatherly, Hip Hop Golden Age, and many more. Subscribe to his monthly newsletter or follow him on Facebook or Twitter.