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.