“I remember you!” the cashier at Superstore said to me yesterday as she weighed out six pounds of red peppers and sixteen pounds of bananas. “You’re the lady with the teen boys who eat all those vegetables!” That would be me. I’m Superstore Famous!
They eat a lot of yogurt, too.
It’s an absolute luxury to be able to feed my kids fresh, nutrient-rich food every single day. It really is. I mean, think about it: we can buy any fruit or vegetable we want, in any quantity, ANY TIME OF THE YEAR. Isn’t that incredible? It is really, truly, a luxurious, incredible thing. I can buy eight pounds of grapes – which will, hopefully, last me a week – in the middle of January. Two or three generations ago we would have been all relegated to root vegetables and canned fruit, and a few generations before that? Very little fruit at any time of the year.
When I think about it, every single component of my life, and most likely yours as well, would be considered an enormous luxury for a very large proportion of the global population. Daily showers, with soaps and cleansers and little exfoliating masks, using hot water that is available any time from the turn of the tap, sleeping at night in a comfortable bed with warm covers and clothes in my heated house, easily accessible public education and health care. I drink four litres of water a day, all perfectly clean and from my tap. This very morning I chose to run on a treadmill, watching the sun rise, purely for exercise. And the laundry, my god, why would I ever complain about the laundry? I put clothes in one machine, and then transfer them to another or to a drying rack, without ever having to haul the water or scrub the clothes or carry baskets of wet laundry on my head. Every single moment of every day is a goddamn miracle, and we should all be thrilled just to be here every second.
Well. That’s not exactly how it works, does it? I count my blessings every day and I feel grateful every day and yet I might still complain about the amount of time I spend washing dishes, in my miraculous sink with hot water and soap at my disposal. That’s just being human; just because someone else has a terminal disease does not mean we cannot complain about a miserable cold. Just because someone else is unemployed does not mean we cannot complain about a bad day at work.
I was thinking about the word “luxury” the other day, as I noticed a long comment thread about the “luxury” of getting rid of things that don’t spark joy. There has been a large uptick in the number of snarky and disapproving comments about Marie Kondo; I couldn’t figure out why, as her amazing book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up came out years ago. Ah, but apparently there is a new television program called Tidying Up, which has apparently rubbed people the wrong way. I haven’t seen it and probably won’t, since as longtime readers may remember, I happily Kondo-ed my life a few years back.
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up literally changed my own life. I implemented most, if not all, of her strategies; to this day that book affects how I purchase and consume things. I roll my socks and stack my sweaters sideways. I keep all my bathroom items in neat cardboard boxes for easy access. If I don’t have a use for something, or if it doesn’t Spark Joy, I donate it.
It’s definitely a luxury to be able to do that, but this is where I circle back to my original point: our entire lives are luxury, comparatively speaking. Sure, maybe we would define luxury in a different way, like being an heiress or just living completely hedonistically, like Cleopatra drinking pearls or similar, but the reality is that we all have these wildly beautiful, incredible lives. I mean, my god, we can VOTE. We can vote and own things and we can get medicine when we are sick, we can be educated and wear clean clothes and if we want to visit another country, WE CAN DO THAT TOO. Sure, some things cost money and we may have to work for that money, but ultimately work is allowing us to live in this manner. Following that, work allows us to Spark Joy.
So yes, it might be very luxurious to just get rid of things that are not Sparking Joy Within Us. It’s a pure luxury to get rid of a perfectly good shirt, just because the colour doesn’t suit or that it was purchased several years ago. We are very fortunate indeed to be able to do just that.
Further to the conversation, a woman I know commented that stated that material things do not bring her joy; her joy is derived strictly from non-material things. I will confess that I derive a lot of joy from many, many material items. Every single day my blender, my jewelry, my clothing, my house, my piano, my books, that fancy brightening face mask from The Body Shop – all of these things and many more Spark Joy every day. I am, apparently, a Material Girl, living in my very own Joy-Sparking Material World.
Do you ever see comments about something you love and feel badly that you love it? That’s how I felt, ridiculously enough, after seeing so much negativity about Tidying Up. This is silly; why should I care what anyone has to say about a clutter-controlling methodology? One of my goals in 2019 and beyond is to just rise above such comments, and not allow them to penetrate my psyche, not just about Marie Kondo, but about everything that brings me joy. Further, I have decided that life is short and I have no time, none, for the following: passive aggressiveness, constant unmitigated outrage, unkindness, meanness, and, especially, smug commentary that make people feel badly about things they enjoy, be it music, books, food, or the way a sock drawer is organized.