Disorderly Order

My life can get disorganized very quickly. Don’t get me wrong. I love things neat and orderly, but when the cyclone of reality comes a knockin’, I tend to get a little all over the place.

This past month? It has been one long tornado of crazy, and a lot has fallen through the cracks. They’ve piled up around me, buried me. Stacks of paper. Undone laundry. Unanswered emails. Grading to be done. A manuscript unedited.   

And all around me, I see people who persevere in their dogged pursuit of keeping life orderly. I currently have a coworker who will sit at his desk and place everything at just the right angle. Even pieces of scrap paper? He’ll situate them corner to corner or color coordinate them. There’s another who, in two years of teaching, has discovered the art of filing her unit plans and documents in neat, tidy folders. This is an idea that has always appealed to me, but I never took the extra time to do so (which in turn has cost me many an hour searching for digital copies on my computer). And then, there is my husband, who craves order like air. It is his safe space in a world full of disorder. This makes for living in a pretty tidy home, and I love it.

These people inspire me, but they make it look so easy, so seamless. I know they have to work at it—that it is nothing but a habit formed, but it is a habit that I crave to possess.   

You see, my brain gets so darn messy. It’s full of abstract images and inkblot stories. It’s full of next steps and past steps. It’s full of chaos and distractions. And currently, my brain feels constantly waterboarded by the fact that I’m growing another human being. My body, my heart, and my emotions don’t exactly belong to me right now, and I get distracted easily. I’ll set something down and lose it within the second, and my students have helped me dub this phenomenon as “baby-brain.”

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Yet despite (or maybe because of?) baby-brain, I’ve had a craving this week for the same kind of order I see people maintain around me.

My husband claims that I’ve started nesting. I’m not sure I can dispute this claim. I’ve tried to create order in the closet of my writing studio to make more room for the child to be. I bought little tubs to organize supplies, and I’ve even asked my husband to get out his beloved label maker. I’ve spent hours throwing out anything unworthy of keeping. And today, I saw that teacher—the very one I mentioned who religiously files things. We had a tiny conversation over the copy machine that had nothing to do with her amazing filing system, and when we parted, I immediately used the rest of my conference period to label manilla folders to organize current units.

Purple penned titles on cardboard yellow.

God, it felt so good.

You see, I reach these breaking points in my disorganization. When my messy desk matches my messy brain and my messy piles of paper match my messy world, I feel everything else so acutely. The noise feels louder, the universe feels too large.

Because life has felt a little shapeless this month, these past few days I’ve found myself attempting to put something in shape—in order. My world has been full of unknowns and long waits, heartbreak and frustrations, uneven odds and misunderstandings. So much has been out of my control, and it felt freeing to control something.

In organizing these units today, I realized how much time it would save me next year. I realized that each second saved in this task was one more I could spend writing, one more I could spend with my child and husband, one more I could spend relaxing. I saw time open up before me. It was as if the hour I spent working on organizing files would give me double that hour in the future.

It got me thinking about the orderly—those souls who have already figured this out. It got me wondering if they feel this good all the time? It got me wondering if their habits have created this constant safety net when things get really bad outside?

But I do know one thing. Whether this feeling is constant or fleeting, I sure did enjoy it today.

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Song of the Week:

The World I Know- Collective Soul

Food Craving of the Week:

Green Apples

Baby Size in Relation to a Vegetable:

Corn (?)

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J.D. Brewer is the author of Intrepid, Vagabond, and The Birth of Anarchy. All three books are available on Amazon.

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