Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Buried Under Piles

Somehow, my life in the past month has spun out of control. Normally I am very neat and orderly. That's simply what makes me feel secure. When that neatness starts unraveling, it's a sure sign that I'm in overload, for one reason or another.

Right now, there are piles everywhere. The two baskets in my kitchen that I use to hold mail and other miscellaneous "to take care of" items are both overflowing. There are stacks of clothing on top of my dresser. My office is filled with precarious tilting mountains of paperwork, magazines, and notebooks, gradually encroaching upon the workable space. I have packages from UPS that haven't even been opened yet. My bookshelves, normally holding only the books that belong there, have miscellaneous items perched jauntily on all the edges.

The closet which holds all of those things that don't need to be out in the open is bursting at the seams. When I open the door to retrieve something, like Christmas wrapping paper, I am hard pressed to get the door closed again, because of the cascading chaos.

This state of affairs makes me uneasy and discombobulated. I take one look at the disorganized mess around me, and want to gnash my teeth and tear my hair.

When I was first living in Calistoga, I rented a room for a while in the home of a very sweet woman who happened to be the most disorganized person I had ever met. She had severe adult-onset Attention Deficit Disorder, which meant that it was nearly impossible for her to stay on task and get things done. As a result, the entire house was a labyrinth of piles - laundry, cooking utensils, books, etc. It was in marked contrast to my simple living space, which was sparsely furnished and neatly organized. She used to come to the door of my room and peer in, never even daring to step in. One day she said, "Your room is so Zen."

For many years, I moved constantly. I rarely lived anywhere longer than a year, and sometimes I moved two or three times in a single twelve month period. Because of that, my belongings were very minimal. I kept only what I actually needed, and traveled light.

Six years ago I met my partner Sabrina, and after we moved in together, into her house, that all started to shift. It began slowly. Initially, I continued to keep all of my things in a single room. But gradually, as I settled in, and felt more expansive, I began to move into other rooms of the house. Now, with the exception of Sabrina's office, I have "things" in every room, parts of me throughout our entire home.

It is a testament to the sense of security and "at home-ness" I feel that I have been able to transform my nomadic, pared-down lifestyle into this one of expansiveness.

So, it appears that allowing myself to be messy sometimes might actually be a sign of health and wellness. Perhaps it means that I feel safe enough to allow things to get crazy, knowing that they can again be brought back into alignment.

And it is, after all, only a few more days until time for New Year's resolutions. I can make an easy one right off the bat - I vow to clean up the piles.


  1. I make that vow all the time. Once everything I owned could be put in a small backpack & a cardboard box, now....... zt

  2. The same thing happens to me this time of year...piles everywhere. And it makes me crazy. Thanks for inspiring me to see it all from a different angle. Indeed, those piles are representative of the fullness of my life. And so, I will enjoy my family, and get to the piles...in January!

  3. Tony,Sabrina always hearkens back to the years she spent living in her pickup truck. I guess many of us have had such a time in our lives, when it was important to travel light.

    Clare, so glad to hear from you! Full life, indeed. What's one more pile among friends?