Life is messy. I try to pretend that it’s not, but that is futile. People are messy. Entropy happens. Chaos surrounds me. I tend to deal with the messiness of life by cleaning and organizing what I can, even if they’re unrelated. You can tell when work is especially hectic, because my bathroom is spotless. I once procrastinated on starting a new writing assignment in order to alphabetize my DVD collection. The former felt messier because it was starting a new project with an unknown end date. The latter could easily be checked off my to-do list.
But life is inherently messy. I try to avoid it and fight it, but eventually I have to live in it. Deal with it. But I want to do more than that. I don’t want to white knuckle my relationship with chaos. I want more than grin and bear it or it will be an awfully long time dealing with messiness.
My dad gave me some new advice… and an assignment.
“Find the fun in the chaos.”
It’s true, there is a chaos that is off-putting, overwhelming, and chest-tightening. This is the chaos we all avoid. But there is also a chaos that is alluring, unknown, adventurous.
This chaos is wonderful.
This is the wonderful chaos of childhood. I recently spent a week with two of my little friends and experienced the alluring chaos of childhood. These kids ran whenever possible, climbed on anything they could reach, and imagined themselves as every superhero I’ve ever heard of.. and they made up some more! They pulled me into their imaginations, creativity, chaos and adventure. And this chaos I loved.
I loved flying the bunk bed spaceship to Texas and beating the invisible bad guys who liked to eat Goldfish crackers. I loved experiencing life without concept of time or date or restriction. I loved how often the imaginative story changed, so fast that I couldn’t even keep up, I wasn’t in charge, play was in charge…and it was delightful.
This week of vacation, I didn’t fold my clothes or put my stuff away. It remained scattered on the dresser and the floor waiting to be used again. I lived in the chaos, not feeling the need to organize, structure or restrict. It was both stressful and glorious. I saved time not tidying every day. Everything I needed was scattered on the top of the dresser. I trained myself that neatness doesn’t equal success. That the goal of life isn’t avoidance of the clutter or the mess. That no matter how neat and tidy I am, mess will find me.
I don’t have to seek the mess; it’s not my job to avoid the mess. I must live well in the mess. And find the fun hiding in the midst of chaos.
How do you deal with life’s messiness?