A goodly portion of my ‘time off’ so far has been sorting through cupboards and bins, trying to cope with the ubiquitous accumulation of stuff that is the property of every modern person. Too great a generalization? Perhaps there are some people out there, somewhere, who don’t don’t use things, who exist in perfect spiritual minimalism, the soul unencumbered by the needs and fascinations of the body. But I haven’t met any of them.
And because I always finish the book I want to be listening to on audible within only a few days and have to wait weeks and weeks for another book I care about at all, I am left listening to educational and self-bettering material, and also to Mari Kondo. It is, as you might imagine, slow going, because I keep having to stop, the rising tide of irritation being too great to paddle through.
I am stuck at this moment at the folding of socks. That is, I am not folding socks, but rather, listening to Kon Mari talk about the correct spiritual way to fold socks, so that the resting energy of the sock might heal and sooth the sock while it is not being worn. And this discussion became too much to bear.
How ridiculous, thought I, for Kon Mari to be worried about the energy life force of my improperly folded socks when my own energy life force is at an all time low. And if you think, I whispered bitterly to myself, that properly dealing with all the socks in my house will buy me the mental and spiritual rest I crave, you have misunderstood the nature of my life.
Let me just lay out, properly unfold if you will, what would happen if I Kon Mari’d all the socks in this house.
First, having collected them all into one place, which would take three or four days at least, I would have made it so that we couldn’t eat any meals because all the socks in the house would cover our capacious dining room table, which would preclude eating anything off of it. Then I would have to face down the sorting of socks–whose socks are whose? Is there a mate? Does it have too many holes? This would go on for some time because whenever I really got started, I would be interrupted by a bevy of children and their legion concerns. Each sock finding its mate would be matched by three questions about the nature of justice in the universe, the gnawing hunger of childhood, and the pressing and desperate need for a bandaid. Four days later, after all the socks had been sorted and then thrown away because they had no mates and they were really all destroyed, having then gone to the store to purchase new socks, these socks would be properly folded and placed in the drawers of all the members of this household.And here is where it gets really good. Somehow the energy force of these properly folded socks would spiritually force them out of the drawer and on to the floor, and into the beds, and behind the dressers, and into the crevices of the car, and under the couch, and into the very road itself–all strewn far and wide, seeking freedom and meaning from someone or other, perhaps Ashera, Baal, or maybe the Great God Amazon. And then, truly, for a moment, consider the state of my person as I realized what my hands had wrought. I would have spent time, energy, thought, and hope on something that, in a matter of five minutes, was then utterly destroyed.
When Kon Mari describes the spiritual delights of folding a sock, and croons into my earphones that ‘once you have experienced the perfectly folded sock you will never go back to your old way of folding a sock’ or whatever it is she was saying, I can only deduce that she cannot possibly have met any number of real children, or the implications of running a household with more than one person in it. To spend that kind of time and emotional energy on something that you don’t really have control over is folly. The victory over the sock drawer would be pyrrhic at best. You might win, but your soul would be crushed by the next morning.
No, the best way to handle socks, and I believe this with every fiber of my being, is to have a bin in the laundry room where you shove them as soon as they come out of the dryer. Anyone who wants a sock of any kind can just go get one or two, or however many. The sock does not need to rest. It will get its rest in the ground, same as me, when it is full of holes and dyed black by being worn without shoes. It’s not that complicated. When you find a sock languishing in the garden or under the bed, you can, I suppose, wash it and put it in its bin to writhe around with the rest of its kind, but you can also just throw it away.
Stuff is important, and worth consideration and care. But not All stuff is equal. And if your stuff is getting its proper rest, but you can’t collapse into a chair at your own dining room table, you probably have other more pressing problems that need coping with, like the very nature of reality itself.
And now, if you’ll excuse me, I will go remove a sock from underneath that chair over there.