My father instilled in me the idea that no matter what I did, it could be improved upon. The outward sign of this psychological scar is that I am drawn to self-improvement books and articles.
As I’ve aged, I’ve become less susceptible to wholesale reconstruction of some aspect of my being. Still, every so often, my father reaches up out of his grave, taps me on the shoulder and says, “Read this and do better” “5 Simple Ways to Raise Perfect Children”, you bet. “The Liver and Onions Diet”, worth a try. “Clean You Whole House in 10 Minutes”, who wouldn’t want to? You get the idea.
So, when The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo became a best seller, I had to see what I was missing. Maybe in my case the magic would be no longer sensing my father’s scowl. I checked the book out of the library and started reading. I dismissed some of her suggestions as not pertinent. Others, I took under advisement. I didn’t toss out everything in the house that didn’t “spark joy” as she put it. That would have been wasteful. My father would not be pleased. I kept reading.
A few years ago, I retired. Since then, we moved from Wyoming to North Carolina, then finally, back west to Albuquerque. I ended up with a lot of clothes I no longer wore. Every time I walked into the closet or opened a dresser drawer, I could feel my father’s disapproval.
Ever ready to improve, I ruthlessly filled bags for Goodwill with work clothing I would never wear again and with clothes I still liked, but were too heavy for the Southwestern climate. I made good progress until I got to the dresser drawers full of tee shirts. I loved them all. They reminded me of places I’d been and events I’d participated in. They all sparked joy, even the faded out holey ones I no longer wore. It dawned on me that Marie had the answer. Following her instructions for tee shirt storage, I folded and folded and carefully placed the shirts in the drawer. When I finished, I had reduced the space required for storage to one drawer which now held precisely 24 tee shirts placed on end like books with their spines up.
I haven’t heard from my father since.