Comfortably Numb

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Guest column: The 10 Percent Solution

The ten percent solution

I wish to state at the outset that I`m not an employee of the Mari Kondo Foundation, and not in that legendary Sorter`s pay, either. But yes, I am making a case for letting go all that we gather and hold like, forever.

Let`s face it, we are a species of Cling-ons. We cling to people, places, things, memories, grudges, prejudices. Mostly, we cling from sheer habit. We cling because once upon a time, it gave us much pleasure to have and hold them, to enjoy the experiences, to revel in relationships. After a while, though, they were no longer assets but liabilities, only we refused to acknowledge them as such. And so they remained, gathering dust in the corners of our houses, minds and lives.

Think about it. Are we really able to let go of anything at all, leave alone stuff that become a ball and chain on our feet, prevents us from moving forward, taking flight, being the best we can be?

This inability to let go no doubt gives the aforementioned Mari Kondo dyspepsia. Hold on to stuff that sparks joy, says the lady whose housekeeping, consisting primarily of jettisoning and keeping, is quite a byword across the world now.

Easier said than done, we say, while firmly re-attaching ourselves to people and things. Which explains a lot of things: why we can`t just up and leave a painful situation. The presence of toxic frenemies in our lives. Why we keep cutting slack for those who spare no effort to drag us down, put us down. Why we just cannot throw out that wrought-iron lamp of an angel holding a torch, that blush pink toaster which was a gift from a beloved grandmother and so cannot ever be junked, the stash of James Hadley Chase books which were a source of much comfort to us in our utterly misguided youth.

It`s like worrying a loose or aching tooth deep in the recesses of your mouth. You  know that probing the space with your  tongue hurts like hell but do you stop giving in to that compulsive urge? Nope.

This resistance to letting go actually stems from our hunter-gatherer past. Back in that day, we collected what kept us alive. Then, the activity upgraded itself to collecting what gave us pleasure.  After which, it became all about collecting/connecting as status symbol art. Now the stuff we own well and truly owns us, which quite definitely makes us victims not connoisseurs.

My solution? First, toss everything that must be thrown into a physical/metaphorical carton. Then, select just ten percent of what`s in there,  and keep it. Because that, I assure you, is all you need in life: ten percent.

This appeared in the Sunday Express magazine of 28 February 2021.

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guest columnletting goNew Sunday Express magazinespring-cleaningThe 10 percent solutionTNIE

Sheila Kumar • February 28, 2021


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