18 January 2006

I like the Sustainability Blog a bunch. This post got me thinking about chaos vs. order in my own space.

I don't think there's a clean gene. I think it's learned.

My parents are very clean and organized and tidy. Dad says that a truly lazy person cleans up right away and keeps things tidy. I didn't learn it from them.

I learned that I want to know whether or nor I've paid the bills that are due, and that I occasionally want to be able to find the one from three months ago to check it. So I learned to keep the bills in one place until they're paid and in another place until I file them and I learned to check the first place occasionally to see if it's time to pay them yet. I also learned that the bigger the receptacle I have in the second place, the longer it is between filings and the more tiresome it is. (Recently I learned that shredded paper is a problem for the local recycling program - so I've added the step of making soup from the papers I'm not willing to recycle unshredded and adding it to the compost) Eventually, I learned that Dad was right, but I had to take my own path to that lesson.

My kitchen cupboards are organized precisely, the drawers less so. I like the bed made but don't mind if I step on a shirt or two on the side of the bed that isn't visible from the bedroom door, as long as they're not blocking the heat duct. I rinse the dishes and stack them so it's easier to wash them when there are enough to bother with, but I'll soak a pan rather than rinsing it right away because it uses less water. I keep my paperwork in order but I have things hanging from every door knob in the house. There's way too much stuff on my bookshelves, but it's all standing up pretending it's in some kind of order and I dust it just often enough that I don't have to name the dust bunnies and give them collars. I dust mop the kitchen and hallways daily because I like to go barefoot and those are the places that get gritty. I vaccuum the area rug only when the layers of cat hair become visible. I take a couple of seconds to turn a pile of clutter into a neat stack; it's no less cluttered, but the appearance changes and now I've handled it and know what's there. I like to know what's where. I don't like hunting for things when I want them.

In my world, there's just enough cleanliness in the chaos so I feel like I'm actually driving this bus, rather than being an unwitting pawn on the giant entropy board. Once I feel I've exerted my will on the maelstrom, I'm content to let the rest whirl or settle or do whatever it pleases.

I'd like to live my life somewhere between Dad's truly lazy person who puts everything away right away and Spider Robinson's Jake Stonebender who figures if the bedroom's tidy there isn't enough fucking going on. Y'know, balance.

It seems like it's less about being tidy and more about being aware - aware of my immediate environment, and aware of its impact on the larger environment, and aware of the choices I make about how much I want to manage my impact on those envioronments.


Robert van de Walle said...

Thanks for the props!

I was wondering who the heck up in Canada was checking in so regularly.

This is a great topic. Everyone has to find their own comfort level, and it's not the same for any two people. Although, come to think of it, I don't know anyone who wants to name their dustbunnies, so perhaps we all have some level of commonality.

Robert van de Walle said...

I just had to post a seconf comment, because the word verification was