Parting with all possessions that don’t spark a sense of joy is the quintessence of Marie Kondo’s career, a Japanese author and consultant who has taken the western world by storm with her self-styled ‘KonMari’ method. Drawing from the tenants of mindfulness and eastern philosophy, KonMari offers an antidote to hyper-capitalism and the increasingly cluttered lives we lead; it’s no exaggeration to say she’s having a profound impact on the hearts, homes and mental health of thousands of people.
This creed appeals to the minimalist in me – that part of my personality that is at loggerheads with my inner compulsive collector. It set me to wondering whether the KonMari method can co-exist with collecting.
One person’s clutter is another’s collection and while my Star Wars museum (as I’ve affectionately come to regard it) might look like a garage sale waiting to happen to some, for me it’s a point of pride. The fact I’ll happily surrender hours to individually dust each piece shows that everything on display brings me joy. But what about those other pieces – the ones in storage, banished under the bed or those weird little impulse buys I’ve tucked away and forgotten about?
I’ll admit there’s more than a few things I’ve bought simply because they were stamped with the Star Wars insignia. It’s why in amongst the dolls and LEGO there’s a bottle of unopened water in a Storm Trooper wrapper. Or a pack of empty crisps I kept because Chewie was on the front. I know that some collectors specialise in food memorabilia and while I wish them well, I can’t honestly say that an empty sweet wrapper sparks joy in me the same way my carded Kenner Barriss Offee figure does.
As I’ve already mentioned, I’m a compulsive collector by nature and much as I appreciate a more stripped back approach elsewhere in my home, my Star Wars collection is swallowing shelf space like there’s no tomorrow. In fact, I’m writing this post on my sofa because where my desk used to be has been completely taken over. Pretty soon my collection will need its own room. Yet to me this isn’t clutter but rather a carefully curated gathering that I’ve built up over the years. Although I’ve always bought and owned Star Wars items, it’s only in the last four years that I’ve seriously started collecting. I’m aware that, left unchecked, it will overwhelm my home. How much will there be in the next ten years? Twenty? It’s probably worth spending some time to really identify which pieces bring you joy, and which are simply set dressing. I mean how many Pop Vinyls does one person really need?
Here’s where I think the KonMari method can really help collectors like me. Although it’s useful to apply to a pre-existing collection, I think it can be of the biggest benefit before a purchase. All too often I’ve been seduced by a clearance sticker, or a deal too good to ignore, and rushed into a purchase only to wonder why exactly I bought that Nien Nunb figure. Spending a few moments to judge whether an item sparks joy before buying will be a powerful means of reducing clutter.
So yeah, I think there’s a lot collectors can learn from the KonMari method. Despite earning the ire of bibliophiles, Marie Kondo isn’t pushing some prescriptive doctrine but rather offering sage advice and a proactive means of removing the clutter from our homes and, in turn, our minds. Collecting can be an important part of the fan experience, but when it becomes a clutter that makes you and your loved ones unhappy, then it’s time to reevaluate things. Having recently gone through my own collection one piece at a time, I can safely say there’s a lot of joy still to be found there, but I’ve got a long way to go before I’m a more mindful, proactive and fulfilled collector.