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March 2019

This month’s letter comes from Jan Lees.

Print deadlines being what they are, I’m writing this in January from a desk with a whole landslip of papers on it.  This is normal.  There’s stuff I know I need along with things I’m not sure what to do with and stuff that’s in transit.  The dining table’s in the same state. 

Periodically I pull myself together and have a sort out and at the moment sorting out and decluttering is all the rage.  The Konmari method has even made it onto Netflix and Marie Kondo is an international tidying-up guru.

How do you feel about clutter?  I can’t make up my mind.  I do enjoy the calm spaces that minimalism produces, but then again my clutter is a spin-off of doing all sorts of interesting things. 

One thing Marie Kondo says really fascinates me.  She says we should only keep things that ‘spark joy’ in us.  Well, not quite – you are allowed to keep things like your recycling bins and loo cleaner, though the likelihood of them ‘sparking joy’ is pretty slim.

I suppose her philosophy isn’t a million miles from William Morris’s dictum that we should only have things which are useful and/or beautiful in our homes.  Lovely idea – provided you’re not skint.  And provided you don’t mind upsetting the aunties who gave you vases and jumpers that you could never learn to love, but loving the aunties has given their gifts squatters’ rights in your life.  I suppose those things spark a sort of second hand joy – you smile at the ornament you’d never have bought because it ties you to the love behind the gift. 

It’s the same with some friendships.  Unlikely people enjoying each other’s company because of a bigger thing that has brought them together.  Being together and enjoying each other’s company is what make communities tick – whether it’s a smile shared or a chat in the street.  If you find yourself too busy for those sorts of things, then it really is time for a decluttering.  Making space for the people you meet day to day is always worth doing.

Jan Lees

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