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Gretel Killeen turns to Marie Kondo to answer the question “Do your friends ‘spark joy’ or is it time to sort and chuck ’em?”
Marie Kondo has taken the world by storm with her de-cluttering manifesto based on one simple question, “does the object spark joy?” And now, let the records show that on a night in April 2019, Flora Day (not her real name) Marie Kondo’d her friends.
Yes, after being stood up for a coffee by Eduardo, an old married lover who’d promised to be friends for the rest of their lives in exchange for the fact he never left his wife despite all the blow jobs Flora gave him, Flora asked herself one simple question: “Does Eduardo spark joy?”
Let the records also show that to Flora’s surprise the answer was “no”. While it’s true Eduardo had sparked jealousy, anger, and the occasional faked orgasm, the days when he had sparked joy had long gone…and been replaced by sparked disappointment, sparked resentment and sparked irritation…particularly triggered by the way he sighed when he chewed (something she bizarrely found arousing when they were in love…but now just found kind of disgusting).
Flora caught herself asking, “Why do I consider Eduardo to be a friend? I don’t tell him my secrets, he doesn’t give me advice, we don’t laugh or learn together, he doesn’t have my back, in fact if I were to be struck by a bus while crossing the road with him…I’m pretty sure he’d split the scene, possibly by catching that bus.
“In the wardrobe of life he has no function, he takes up space and the memories he evokes are traumatic. Is he the silk scarf my mum gave me before she died? Or is he that lonely sock that I’ve kept in the drawer for so many years, just in case I one day find the other one?
“Or,” Flora considered sadly, “am I in fact the lonely sock?’
And with that Flora went to the garage in her heart, where all her alleged “friends” were stored. And she took them from their frayed cardboard boxes, their plastic containers bought in bulk at Bunnings, and their random sheet and blanket wrappings bound with string and an old leg-rope. And she held them up to her mind’s eye and, channelling Marie Kondo she asked, “Does this friend spark joy?”
After being stood up for a coffee by Eduardo, an old married lover who’d promised to be friends for the rest of their lives in exchange for the fact he never left his wife despite all the blow jobs Flora gave him, Flora asked herself one simple question: “Does Eduardo spark joy?.
Well, let the record show that many simply didn’t. Some old uni friends sparked annoyance, some distant school friends sparked boredom, some old workmates sparked rivalry, some conservative friends sparked humiliation, some friends from the “old”gang’ sparked loneliness and isolation, and some old boyfriends sparked a psychosomatic itch.
So Flora solemnly discarded many “friends” by throwing them into the allegedly “tough” garbage bags (which we all know are never as tough as the pictures on the packaging). She did this until the storage space in her heart looked empty. And then, as she sat on an old milk crate (which coincidentally brought lots of joy, because it was useful, resilient and also free, i.e.; pinched), she thought to herself, “so, who does spark joy in my life?”
It was then that Flora thought of the woman who lived down the hall who made Flora cups of tea when she was sad, the girl in the office who laughed at Flora’s jokes and made her feel like the queen of the world, the sister of a workmate who turned up with her ute the night Flora lost her roof in a storm, the hairdresser who gently “redirected” Flora’s hair after it fell out in patches from illness, the man from the park with the three-legged dog who supported Flora when she complained to her building’s body corporate about the neighbour farting in the lift, and “the mad girl” who called Emergency Services when Facebook went down and who constantly invites Flora on adventures, to which Flora until now, had always said no…because she thought she had enough friends as her cupboard was full. But as it turns out, it was just cluttered, because Flora had been a friend hoarder.
And with that, Flora realised that she’d been ignoring the real sparkers of joy in her life by not even thinking of them as “friends”. Why? Sure Facebook had confused the definition of friend with “complete and utter stranger who you haven’t met and may never meet”, but had Flora also fallen into the modern-day conundrum of holding onto people only because they’d always been there, thus rendering her start-up disc full?
Oh yes, let the records show that Flora mixed her metaphors (including one about weeds filling the flower bed and leaving no room for the flowers). And on that day in March she resolved to seek friends who, you guessed it, spark joy. And even though she only has a handful of friends at the moment, they’re no longer in the garage; they’re on a shelf, sparking joy, right in the middle of the living room.
PS: And finally let the records show that Eduardo is his real name.