Tidying, Models And Honouring The Intention
Lately I’ve been reading Marie Kondo’s much talked about book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. I say lately, because it’s the kind of odd, challenging book you don’t so much read, as wrestle with. In theory it’s about tidying your home. But, if you follow the advice […]
Lately I’ve been reading Marie Kondo’s much talked about book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. I say lately, because it’s the kind of odd, challenging book you don’t so much read, as wrestle with. In theory it’s about tidying your home. But, if you follow the advice carefully, you actually do a lot less tidying up than throwing out, dispensing with any of your possessions that don’t bring you a deep sense of joy. After that, the questions you face are not really about where to put things (or whether you really can stand T-Shirts and underpants on their side, as Kondo suggests), but more about how you orient your life.
Most of the stuff in our homes doesn’t really elicit a feeling of joy. I had plenty of clothes in my cupboard, books on my shelves and stuff in my cupboards that was there simply because I once paid money for it, or someone gave it to me. Those possessions didn’t say anything about who I am now or who I might be in the future – they were just “stuff.”
Touching A Past Obsession
While tidying up my workshop, I was confronted with a box I haven’t opened in a long time, a remote controlled model car my parents gave me over 10 years ago. I’ve written before about my childhood obsession with models and remote control cars. What I haven’t mentioned is that, sadly, that model car I’ve often mentioned was mistakenly thrown out by my parents when they moved house back in the 90s. I was ski-ing in New Zealand at the time and a few things I’d asked them to keep didn’t make it to their new home. My parents felt pretty bad about the mistake and generously make up for by buying me a new, top of the line, model.
The car was easy to assemble and I quickly got it about 95% finished. Unfortunately, it broke, driving along the rough driveway of my home in India and with no spare parts available locally, it went back into the box. In Singapore I tried to fix the car, but again, parts were hard to find.
So, I recently found myself staring at the car again, Kondo’s words buzzing around my head. How did I feel about this model now? Being in Japan, parts are easy to find and it makes no sense to keep a car that doesn’t work. Fix it, or dump it were my two options. I decided to fix it.
The Younger You Can Still Be You
It’s common theses days to refer to “the younger me” as in “the younger me would have loved this song.” It’s a way to distance ourselves from our youthful exhuberance, to try and seem more adult. Of course, it’s an act. If we still feel a pang of excitement about something it’s because we still feel some sense of connection. Kondo’s question cuts through all the self-aware bullshit we use to make ourselves seem more adult. When something still makes us feel joy, that joy is real, there’s no need to put in a box labelled, “younger me” and store it with countless other neatly labelled boxes. Much better to have one, simplified, joyful existence.
Cleaning and Redeeming
Having sat in a box for many years and having last run in India, the car’s chassis was pretty filthy. And, I had to replace the electronics, since the remote unit was for Australian frequencies, and the old battery was dead. Thankfully there’s a simple upgrade kit on the market with everything you need (remote, battery, charger, digital speed controller). Like most things, technology in this stuff has advanced, and I replaced 159g of bulky parts in the car with 93g of new parts.
One thing I had not done was spray paint and decal the body work. Tempted as I was to go for some custom job, I decided to follow the kit, opting though for a pearlescent racing white, in place of the more standard brilliant white.
I’m really happy with the result. While I’m not about to join a racing club or dive back into the hobby, I’m delighted that instead of staring at box in my workshop, I get to see a built and finished, working model. This fills me with a lot more joy and really honours the childhood memory of model making and the legacy that has for me today, as an adult, as well as respecting the gift my parents gave me.