Supposing that you’ve not been living under a rock for the past month or so, you may be familiar with the phrase “spark joy” and charming pixie smile of one Marie Kondo. Her Netflix series has taken the internet by storm. Its wholesome emphasis on finding love, purpose and joy in your surroundings and belongings has roots in Shinto beliefs. As February came around and red and pink filled my social media feeds, I got to thinking on how oddly appropriate her KonMari philosophy is for Valentine’s Day.
Today it’s more of a Hallmark holiday rather than a reflection of an eastern European saint’s penchant for marrying peasant couples against the law, but the 14th of February sneaks up on us every year. Whether you sincerely celebrate, think it’s a bit of a faff or find yourself reminded of your perpetually single status, there’s no escaping the Valentines marketing campaigns this time of year. Hearts, roses, chocolates, perfume, jewelry and romantic getaways are all on offer to celebrate. Nowadays the market is even bigger with people celebrating with friends or just treating themselves, in lieu of holding hands with a significant other across a candlelit dinner table. Which is the norm according to a variety of romantic comedies. (I haven’t had a valentine since those primary school parties where we inhaled heart shaped candy and proceeded to bounce off the walls thirty minutes later from the sugar rush).
Tomorrow is Valentine’s day and between binge watching Tidying Up With Marie Kondo and the aforementioned marketing campaigns I’ve been thinking about our relationship with our belongings. We often express love and affection often through the giving of gifts, items that we hope will spark joy in our loved one’s lives. Items can have purpose and add meaning. It can be the silk shirt you lounge about in on a Sunday afternoon. Joy can be found in the pages of a book, its spine creased from reading over and over again. It can be the bold confidence brought on by a favorite red lipstick. It can be the sentiment of connection, a string of pearls passed down from your grandmother that you wear to channel some of her timeless elegance. These treasures give the everyday a little extra luster.
Mass consumerism and relentless advertising have left a bit of a bad taste in many people’s mouths, but I think the true love of an object is something to be celebrated. In many ways our beloved belongings become extensions of ourselves, so finely woven into our lives. Marie Kondo’s tidying up philosophy helps overwhelmed people to rediscover which items really make their lives better. Finding love in your belongings is a sort of joie de vivre, incarnating the parts of life that make you happiest and love yourself the most. If modern Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love in all of its forms, then maybe take a moment with some of your favorite things. The items, mementos, clothing or belongings that spark joy in your heart, whether the precious family heirloom, or the silly joke mug you drink your morning coffee in. Grin at the memories they recall, wear the pair of shoes that make you really happy and go about your Valentine’s day with that little extra love in your heart (or on your feet).