The seasons that run smoothly for me are, unsurprisingly, the ones that involve focus and order. The routines, the boundaries, the guidelines – I’m wired for it all. Once, on a hot July day when I was no taller than her mailbox, my aunt announces a trip to the fair to pet the pigs, try a lemon shake-up, ride the tilt-a-whirl. Instant shrieks of joy from my sisters and cousins, and from me, straight-faced and hesitant: Yes, but what are the rules?
(I do not profess to live a life free of quirks.)
And yet, two things that often fall by the wayside this time of year: Focus and order.
Currently, our basement is overflowing in disarray, the aftermath of this project. The garage houses piles of spare wood for repurposing, tools in need of organization, homemade speaker boxes and amplifiers and all manner of wires I’m not privy to identify (oh to keep up with a renaissance man). Bee’s nature collections cover the kitchen counter on more days than not, with a small guarantee the craft table will be shrouded as well. And while I do not claim a mess-free existence of my own – et tu, unread book stacks? – what our home’s clutter mostly requires of me is patience, understanding. Acceptance for other people’s limitations and preferences.
Even still, I’ll forever relish in the sense of accomplishment that comes from one problem solved, one bit of clutter corralled. Case in point? Our kitchen counter.
If your kitchen counter is anything like mine, it’s likely tech zone. Wires and chargers and phones, oh my, and if there’s anything I don’t want to be staring at daily, it’s the phone. And so, in the spirit of making seemingly insignificant improvements, I grabbed a few cutting boards and covered the whole lot of it up:
It was bliss, an instant peacemaker. I found focus and order restored once again. Out of sight, out of mind.
Of note: A barrier of heavy wooden planks was not what one might accurately call a permanent solution until Ken whipped up a cutting board stand in said woodshop. Let the record state: renaissance men can be ever-disorganized, but they sure are smart.
I’d love to say the lesson here is in accepting the mess, the gratitude that arrives when you find just how purposeful that chaotic woodshop can truly be. And that is a lesson, sure, but not this one.
Sometimes, when overwhelmed by life or clutter, zoom in. Get close. Try something out. Squint at this seemingly insignificant thing from every direction and solve a small, minor, temporary problem. Make do, if you will. Do what you can. Mask it with beauty.
Zoom out and sigh happily.
Zoom out even further and encounter a new mess, of course, because this is life after all, with the chaos to prove it.
p.s. These are a series of small steps that will (hopefully) provide one giant leap to greater things. Not for mankind, but for me, and perhaps for you, which will always be good enough in my book. More here.