Sunday, April 29, 2007

Please don't be like me

I thought about calling this entry “messy is beautiful” and I just couldn’t do it.

I am very neat.

Believe me when I tell you this is more a characteristic than a quality, more a compulsion than a virtue. I don’t strive for order. It’s not that I’m disciplined or that I have a system. It’s just that I can’t live any other way.

The busier I am, the more I need to line things up (and I don’t mean metaphorically). In a world of people who tend to shop when they need a boost, I tend to de-clutter for an equivalent fix of relief.

I mention this because my friend Amy asked me to write an entry with tips around how to let things go. After a few weeks of thinking about it, I realize I have no idea what to say. It would be like telling someone with blue eyes how I keep mine brown.

My inbox is always clean. As I read my email, I delete whatever does not require action. I seldom file things. I throw out whatever I suspect I won’t remember that I have. (If you don’t remember owning it, that is equal to not having it – ergo, toss.)

Does this sometimes lead me to beg a co-worker to resend me that document? Certainly. Like I said, I don’t do any of this because I find merit in it or because I choose to.

My desk looks like no one works there because any stack of paper would be to me like a poke in the eye would be to you. (You’d find it hard to concentrate if someone was poking you in the eye.)

My house doesn’t have anything in it that I don’t find either useful or beautiful. I keep in my closet empty shopping bags, where I toss something the minute I realize I’m not going to wear it.

I feel that considering that a thing has sentimental value is somewhat of an oxymoron (with very few exceptions, such as certain autographed books.) My friend Cat correctly accuses me of having a "Hyper-Zen drive to divest myself of all material possessions.”

If Luca has a pile of something around the house (socks, papers, magazines), I explain to him that I feel as if it were piled on my chest. It’s not that I’m being tidy. It’s that I need to not suffocate.

Creating order out of chaos is not something I’d ever consider a chore. It clears my head. I do it for fun. Doing laundry is instant gratification. Taking something rumpled, stained and smelly and turning it into something fresh, fluffy and neatly stacked is my idea of heaven.

I plan my Saturdays and Sundays the same way I plan for weekdays. I keep a calendar and a to-do list, even if one of the items on it is often “nap”.

Please don’t be like me. We each need to pursue whatever makes our life a pleasure to live it. If you are messy, embrace it. Disorganization can be healthy. I’ve read that “the costs of maintaining order are often overlooked. That time could be spent doing more enjoyable things.”

Go do your own definition of an enjoyable thing while I meticulously schedule mine. Where I’ll be sure to include arranging my spice rack in alphabetical order.


Ben said...

I am not that bad :-p. I do, however, keep my inbox, my desk and my kitchen impeccable (which means spending hours a day since I cook at least one meal a day)
Just like you, if I think something won't be used anymore, or soon, I dispose of it. My wardrobe is often recycled and in those rare occasions when I need those seemingly useless things I find myself regretting throwing them away.
The house must be clean all the time too. Jon's only responsibility is to clean the bathroom, which I often end up doing because I can't stand it even if it is just a little dirty.
Gosh! I think I need help :/


Dushka said...

Hi, Ben!

See? That's kind of my point. You're not bad - you're just you.

If I could change Luca into a man who wouldn't leave piles of stuff around, I wouldn't. I love him just the way he is. By extension, I've decided I love me just the way I am too.

Miguel Cane said...

Dear Dushka...

I am something of the sort, but also am very lenient about myself: this means that I go around picking up other people's disarrays, but tend to turn a blind eye to mine... and that shouldn't be.

Perhaps now that I am going to be living in another country and by myself, it will be an altogether different story.

I'll keep you posted

Much love

The Stepford Cane

Viviana said...

Duska, Ben and Miguel:

Please, please, the three of you... why don't you come to my house for an extensive clean up?

We can make a party, you clean (since you enjoy it so much) while I read or watch T.V. Wouldn't it be great? jeje.

The truth is that I've never been organized, but I have a very good memory. I don't have a very good system but I remember a lot of details. It has worked for me until now. God knows, when I begin with the Alzheimer's maybe I 'll be needing a system like yours!!!

Besides, when children come into your life, it doesn't matter how clean and organized you are...they
have the plan to undo all of your plans, jeje.

Dushka, I enjoyed your blog very much. I'm a friend of Miguel, living in Mexico city.

I'll be seeing you soon


Carol Miller said...

Compulsion by any other name is still gratifying. As long as it doesn't take over.

Dushka said...

Isn't "taking over" the very definition of a compulsion? If it doesn't take over, then it's just a pale little characteristic.

Stephanie said...

Dushka, with your seven items in your purse,

If you had to walk in my disorganized shoes, you may give up your compulsion or commit yourself to an insane asylum. Or, in an act of God, you could figure out a way to control the chaos I seem to live with on a day-to-day basis.

Of course, I'd be watching to see which way it goes... all from a neat-n-tidy lounge chair with a pina colada.

Love ya.

Dushka said...


The foibles I live by don't apply to a strong woman raising three handsome men. I'd be fit to be tied. You wouldn't be in a lounge chair: you'd feel sorry for me and pitch in.