by Melissa Geissinger
When you've lost everything in a fire, you kind of want to punch Marie Kondo in the face. Going through your personal belongings and only keeping what sparks joy? How about when you have to go to Safeway to buy a pair of leggings just so you can have something to wear other than pajama pants?
Screw sparking joy. I just want some underwear.
I mean obviously not really punch her because she's such a sweet sweet lady, but even over a year after my house burning down in the Tubbs fire, the only thing I can really glean from her teachings is how to fold a pair of pants into a taco so it stands up straight.
That's cool and all, but I can't help but be triggered when I'm watching her clients dump years upon years worth of clothing and personal items on their bed and moan and groan about what to keep.
It wasn't long ago that everything I owned fit in a backpack. Even now with all sorts of new stuff that somehow clutters up the rental house on the regular, I sometimes marvel at how much we've managed to accumulate in such little time. These items may not have the same stories that our old stuff had - my great grandmother's secretaries desk, my grandmother's little black dress that fit me like a glove, the rocking horse Santa gave me when I was three that I couldn't wait to pass down to my son-- but every item we've accumulated has meaning. Everything I now own is precious, and I take none of that for granted.
Spark Your Own Joy
We were lucky enough to have received insurance money very soon after the fire. We were also lucky to have a place to stay in my parents' guestroom. We needed to make the most of it and make it our sanctuary in a crowded house, so we decided to go to Best Buy to get a TV and a sound system.
We were all so on edge in the days after, and we had none of our normal stress relief outlets. For my husband, that was playing his drums and video games. We were trying hard to only buy what we needed, but I know my husband and I knew he needed an escape.
So I snuck away to the game console section and came back with a PlayStation 4. I'll never forget his reaction. He cried.
It's hard to describe the effect buying new things has on you unless you've experienced the level of loss that we did. It's odd how new belongings can somehow simultaneously mean so much but at the same time you don't want to get too attached because it could all disappear in an instant.
My point with all of this is that when you're in survival mode (which we were for over a year), you need to soak up as much joy as you can and just concentrate on being okay. So buy that pair of boots you don't really need. Take yourself to the movies. Spend an entire day doing nothing with no regrets.
Joy is fleeting but happiness is the result of investing in yourself, and only you can know how to make that happen.