You would think after living in the world’s Most Tidy Country I would have adopted some of their clutter free lifestyle. Alas after residing in the same house in Switzerland for over 2 decades I have amassed a truck load of artifacts, books, T-shirts, photographs, medals, basketballs and other memorabilia.
As a history collector, a memory keeper, how do I part with boxes of stuff.
Am I missing the clean gene?
Or can tidiness be part of a national identity inherent in small countries where space is at a premium?
I do not have any messy Swiss friends, nor has a “native” ever entered my home without automatically taking off his/her footwear. Even the children are trained to park their shoes at the door.
Marie Kondo, a Japanese woman, created a global movement of mindfulness to organize space and eliminate the vicious cycle of clutter. She would love Switzerland.
The Swiss must instinctively adhere to her number selection criteria – “does it spark joy?”
She insists: keep only those things that speak to your heart. Do Beanie Babies, books and bags count?
Am I the only one who finds joy in preserving plastic bags triggering memories of special people, places and events? Yes, I have bags labeled NBA store in NYC, Nathalie’s Boutique in southern France and Nicolas Wine Shop in Paris.
According to Kondo when we really delve into the reasons for why we can’t let something go, there are only two: an attachment to the past or a fear for the future.
I suffer from both making it doubly hard.
Another tip she stresses, don’t let your family see what you are doing. They will inevitably want to keep everything you want to pitch.
“People have trouble discarding things that they could still use (functional value), that contain helpful information (informational value), and that have sentimental ties (emotional value). When these things are hard to obtain or replace (rarity), they become even harder to part with.”
When you were raised in the American midwest where garages are bigger than European homes and filled with more junk than a Dollar Store, downsizing stuff does not come naturally. It so much easier to just chuck it in the garage.
After living in a country so clean you could eat off the street, where wood piles are stacked as neatly as Jenga blocks and spotless garages contain nothing more than shiny new cars, I still wonder where the Swiss store junk?
Chalet like style outbuildings are surrounded by gardens of flowers and shubbery.
At some, like ours, secondhand wares are tidily diplayed as gift shops. Since garage sales do not exist here, people can browse the local recycle centers that look more like lending libraries.
In a country as wealthy as Switzerland even junk is topnotch quality. Unfortunately I am no longer allowed to go to the dump here. I always bring back home more stuff than I threw away.