"To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you like everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting." ~e.e. cummings, 1955
A couple of days ago I was reading a blog where the writer posted pictures of her apartment. She went from room to room and the photos were lovely. Her place was quaint and cute and looked like a place I could see myself living if I was single and childless. But what made me fall a little in love with her was that she posted a picture of a closet of hers that she said she was finally going to start organizing. The closet was a disaster. I mean, it was piled high with all sorts of stuff. It was a jumbled, ridiculous mess and I couldn't stop staring at it. I kept thinking how brave she was to post something like that because not in a million years would you ever get me to post the insides of my junk drawers (which outnumber the organized drawers) or my closets. And part of me was just really happy and relieved to know that there was someone else in the world who had closets that were a mess.
I remember sitting in the kitchen of one of my good friends a couple of years ago. While we were chatting she was emptying her dishwasher and putting away bibs and dish towels and whatnot. When she opened the drawer with the bibs and the dish towels I almost fell off my stool because OMG, everything was folded so neatly and put in these perfect little piles and OMG not in a million years would I ever be able to maintain that sort of organization for more than a day. She opened cabinets, too, and they were all perfection. It took my breath away. On my way home, I felt tears starting to fall because there's something about organized people that makes me feel like I am a colossal failure. I want so desperately to be like them but I always, always fall short. I want to know their secret.
I'm good at having things look presentable on the surface, but don't dare open a drawer, or a closet, or peek under the bed because the truth of it is that beneath the facade of cleanliness, everything's a jumbled mess and I'd rather everyone have the illusion of me being better than that. I'd be a shoe in for Queen of Surface Cleaning if there was such a thing. If only.
Anyway, I was thinking how brave that blogger was to put it out there that she had a closet that was such a disaster. I'm not brave like that. What typically happens is that I get inspired to clean up my act, and I tear my house apart so that I can be organized, too, because I think that being organized is the secret to feeling at peace because you're never worried that someone will come over and discover what a disaster you are. I'm convinced this will make me feel at peace in the world. So I work like a mad woman cleaning everything up, and when I'm done I'm so exhausted and sick of the whole thing that I let everything fall back into chaos in no time. I get about a week and a half of peace before I'm back where I started.
What this all says about me is beyond me. I'd like to think I'm just too busy doing more important things, but that's not true. Books call me away, my friends call me away, the sunshine calls me away. I have excuses for everything. It's more that I don't want to work that hard at all the nitpicky things you have to do to maintain an organized life.
I remain a work in progress.
The New Civil War
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