I’m sorting through a basket of old cables, guitar strings and microphones looking for a jack adaptor so that my daughter can play the piano through headphones.
“You don’t have to play quietly, you’re not disturbing me,” I tell her.
She doesn’t hear me because she is on her phone and has her headphones in.
On a roll, I decide to tackle my bedroom drawers and find within it a copy of the Marie Kondo classic, “The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying” stuffed near the back with a make-do bookmark two-thirds of the way through.
I remember buying it when someone mentioned it to me one day and I was reminded that I should never listen to any book recommendations from anyone because I invariably buy whatever is suggested to me, which explains why my shelves are cluttered with dozens of books I don’t want to read.
For a while, I thought she was on to something, and then she opened an online store called “KonMari” and I looked at the “Crumb Brush” for $32 and the “Brass Moon Trivet” for $72 and wondered if the irony of the name she had chosen was lost on her.
Amongst the pencils, batteries, paintbrushes, and plectrums I find bookmarks that my children had made me, a dollar bill and map of NYC from my visit many years ago. Then I came across my old wallet.
I had the wallet when my children were born. As they were growing up and I was disintegrating I kept in it photos of them both and of my wife to try and remind me of some nameless feeling I had lost in myself.
It was in that wallet I used to put the doctor’s certificates that were given to me by my increasingly concerned GP as I made my way back to work, refusing the help I so desperately needed.
When I eventually came to replace it I did so because I feared that anything I kept inside would start to fall through the holes and be lost forever. I took my daughter to help me choose.
Taking the wallet downstairs towards the bin my daughter is sitting with her back to me playing the piano. She must sense me nearby because she turns and removes her headphones.
“Look, it’s my old wallet. I found it in the drawer and now I have to throw it away, although I don’t really want to” I tell her.
“Does it spark joy?” she asks with a smile, momentarily becoming a surrogate Kondo, without the expensive tat.
“No, because it’s stuck in the back of a drawer, but the thought of throwing it away sparks sadness,” I tell her.
“Sadness isn’t a bad thing”, she says.
Later, in bed, I feel my eyes getting heavy and I close my book with the encapsulated scrap of paper on which my much younger daughter has written: “Keep Calm And Be My Daddy”.
I open the bedside drawer and run my fingers across the smooth cool leather of my old wallet and think about Kondo’s book in a bag downstairs awaiting a trip to the charity shop.