On being messy..

“One of the advantages of being disorderly is that one is constantly making exciting discoveries.”  (A.A. Milne)

Today’s quote uses the more gentile word “disorderly” instead of messy, but it’s really the same. I’m not talking about being a hoarder; that’s a different and disturbing mental disorder; rather this is about those of us ( I certainly count myself among this group) who don’t leave our desks in neat messy deskorder every night. Instead we (I) make piles of things and have those piles all over the place. I’m not sure why it seemed so important at the time to save some of the stuff that I find in those piles, but apparently it made sense then. Many times there are multiple copies of the same things in the piles, because I didn’t have to time to search for it in the piles when I needed it, so I rerun the report or print off another copy. The fact that I often have another copy on my computer makes saving it in a pile even more vexing, when I think about it.

Getting back to Milne’s quote; occasionally I’ll get into one of those “time to clean things up” modes and go through the piles on my desk; usually that occurs when the piles get so high and unruly that things start sliding off the top and falling onto the floor. It is during those deep dives into the pile, with most things being thrown in the trash that exciting discoveries can be made. Sometimes they reveal commitments not keep or things not sent to those who requested them – darn it. Sometimes they just key memories of things long past, some good and some bad. Throwing away the stuff that brings back bad memories brings a sense of closure to them.

piles on deskI always end up with piles; they’re smaller now, but still piles of stuff that I’m still keeping for some reason. If I’m in a particularly energetic mood I may try to find a place to file those important things; however, most of my file cabinets are full of stuff from prior pile organizing efforts. Sometimes they end up in boxes that placed high up and way back in closet shelves. They join other boxes there that I sometimes wonder about. What is in those boxes? It must be important stuff; otherwise why would I keep it. Sigh! Someday I’ll have to go through the boxes.

As a Realtor I deal all the time with people facing moves. Moving is one of those events in life that forces one to deal with all of the stuff that has accumulated. I recall our last move, which was over 14 years ago, now. As we were packing to move to Milford, we discovered boxes in our attic storage that had not been opened from the move 23 years earlier from Indiana. We decided not to move them to Milford. Well, maybe just this one and that one over there. After all, one never knows when one might need a milk-glass punch bowl and 12 cups that has seen very little use in over 30 years.

These days people hold garage sales or put stuff like that on Craig’s List and sell it. What doesn’t sell gets donated to the Salvation Army or Purple Heart. That often works for the stuff that was never in a pile to begin with; however, the contents of those piles seldom has any value to anyone else and I’m not even sure it still has value to me. Oh well, I’ll just move this pile over there and go through it later. I’ve got new stuff today and it needs a pile of its own.

As I close I wanted to find some justification for the disorganization in my life and this quote by Laura Ingalls Wilder works well – “The trouble with organizing a thing is that pretty soon folks get to paying more attention to the organization than to what they’re organized for.” See, I knew there was a reason that I didn’t want to get too organized. I’m paying more attention to the things that matter, instead of the things that caused the piles in the first place.

Hey, what’s in that pile over there? Have a great, disorderly day!

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