Amber & Order

Well, let’s just get down to it. Last week, while Bee was napping a bit longer than usual, I headed to the bathroom for lotion and promptly decided to reorganize. Reorganizing, purging, editing, culling – these are all of my love languages, and had I been able to register for my wedding at The Container Store, I would have been a beaming bride indeed.

There is no end to my love for a streamlined linen closet, and I do not wish to share how many times I have purchased white towels to replace white towels, but really, why stop the divulging of secrets now? I obsessively crave order. It is the 80’s ballad I will always sing.

And yet, life is so very disorderly, and on my best days, I write this, and on my worst days, I am convinced my life is disorderly because the contents of my shower are not up to par. I survey the upside-down shampoo, the oversized conditioner (of which I never use in equal amount, leaving a surplus of conditioner that I spend an astronomical amount of time in resentment toward), the lavender colored body soap, the ill-shaped face wash, the hot pink razor. There is no order in my shower, there is no order in my life.

This is precisely why I shall not be permitted free time. This is precisely why, I believe, God blessed me with Bee’s energy level, so as not to offer me more time to manufacture problems about the state of my shower.

Still, I pounce on the problem. To the Amazon app I go, then, to order amber bottles with pumps, all of which will match, all of which I will purchase perfectly numeric labels for, all of which will be nicely lined up just so, all of which will greet me happily in the morning.

Problem solved, for what, $20? I pride myself on my smarts. Calm, for $20! Peace, for $20! I am a genius.

Two days later, there is a cardboard box on my doorstep, filled with amber waves of transformation.

Oh, I am cringing now.

I line up the bottles on my vanity, waiting to be filled when my perfect numeric labels arrive. And from Ken, before bed, I hear this:

You sure do have a lot of things for someone who despises clutter.

And I scoff, and I roll my eyes, and my errant thinking is surfaced but of course he is correct. He is maddeningly correct always in that first, he is just maddening but then second, after a few weeks and some distance and perhaps a glass of wine, you learn he is also correct. He is always correct. He is annoying in his correctness.

And I see it now. Of course it makes no sense to purchase more bottles to decant my current bottles into, and what will I do with the old bottles? Where will I store the ones that have not yet been completely used? And what will I do with the hot pink razor now that it clashes with my streamlined amber bottle system? What then? Purchase a more subtle, coordinating shade? What, then, with the electric toothbrush? Bee’s favorite bath toy? My shower cap?

When will the madness cease? Is this how I will spend my time?

I am an addict; order, the drug.

Order is a myth, of course, because this beautiful universe is made up of messy little atoms, particles, energy masses that bump into each other to create static, disarray, chaos.

It was made that way, and no amber bottle system will keep me from feeling the friction.

And so, new goal, for me: let it be. Step away from the Amazon app. Allow the clash, allow the disorder. It is not a problem to be fixed. It is a byproduct of having enough, a gift, a blessing. It is not a curse.

There can never be a rainbow if we see amber alone.

  • It’s scary how easily I can relate to your writing. Beautiful as always, Erin. And because this one in particular really resonates, I have to ask – can you share a link for those bottles? They are brilliant!

  • Oh, how I needed this today. I told my mom just last night that I was blaming disorder for my anxiety. I’ve been struggling with anxiety for years now, and suddenly after jumping on the bandwagon and reading the life-changing magic of tidying up- I decided that all of this anxiety that I struggle with is simply because I have too many things around me. Simple enough just toss out all the excess and voila, all your life problems will be solved. Thank you for allowing me to feel as if I’m not the only one who gets caught up in the idea that if my home was in perfect order my life would be too.

    • Oh Lexi, I hear you! It’s hard not to blame anxiety on outward things – chaos, clutter, circumstance – when in reality, our human souls are troubled because we are human. I read bits and pieces of that book and had to put it down – quickly – because I already veer toward blaming things for my unhappiness and instead, I need to focus inward. Quick fixes are never quick fixes, are they?

  • Well, since you have them you might as well try them out to see if you do in fact like the streamlined amber bottles (AND the hot pink razor and fave bath toy for a spot of chaos – balance, after all). = )

  • Beautiful writing as always.

    I think what you’re really getting at here isn’t so much order vs. disorder as it is perfection vs. reality.

    If you detest clutter and love to replace white towels with white towels (!) I’m almost positive your home IS orderly.

    Believe me, as a professional organizer I can tell you that for those who live in disorder there is no possibility of mistaking the two.

    But accepting and embracing the fact that your home and the contents of your shower may not always look like a living photoshoot since razors in real life as bright pink (and they work like that too!) is a noble goal no matter what words you call it by, so kudos either way.

    Sudsy, oversized conditioner bottles up!

    • Haaaaaa, I think you’re on to something here, friend. Thank you for the encouragement! :)

  • oh erin, i was audibly laughing at this … quite comedic … and all too relatable … oh how i love order too and oh how my hubby (on occasion) and my daughter (often) says i have way too much stuff for someone pointing out ‘we have way too much stuff’ …oh, to be at peace and patient amungst the possesions :)

  • Men always rain on our parades! Love the amber bottles and share your desire and love of order!

  • A friend forwarded me your article on swimming upstream. Your first article spoke to me, as I have had similar encounters. Then I read this. You have a great way of putting things. I’ll be back.

  • Actually….the amber bottles look amazing :) my motto is if it’s clean, nearly anything looks great! So even if the razor, bottles and soup doesn’t match, if it’s clean, it’s still inviting. The only way I get through motherhood. with four little bodies…and if it’s not clean, we still get through!

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