Last Saturday Jim brought two books home from the public library on Bullard. He started reading The Faith of Christopher Hitchens and I started reading Messy. He had joked that he brought it home for me, not because I'm messy, but because he is messy and I'm pretty much on the other end of that spectrum.
I love orderliness and say my middle name is "Organization." My parents had a little joke they would show their guests when I was just a toddler, not even old enough to speak. They would say, "Watch," and fold back the edge of a throw rug in the dining room. The first time I happened to wander by I reliably straightened out the rug. It's just the way I am.
Sometimes when a person says "It's just the way I am" I suspect that person is avoiding facing a character fault that needs correcting. But in this case, I don't see it as a character fault.
Now team that up with a husband who thinks the bedroom chair, or perhaps better, the floor is a good place to leave his discarded clothing. Why bother with hanging it up or folding it into a drawer when you're going to need it again in a day or two? You can imagine that we've had some conflict over these different points of view!
Well, this book revealed a lot of things to me. First the fact that the challenges you face in an unfamiliar situation, though disturbing and perhaps even distressing, end up being opportunities. I related this to the many changes I've had to face in our life together, not in terms of relating to the Dear One, but because we moved, often as much as 800 to 2,000 miles to a new home, a new pastorate for Jim, new schools for the kids, and a complete new environment for each of us.
For me that meant reinventing myself as a teacher. I majored in Latin in college, aiming to teach in high school. At the time I graduated Latin was being phased out. There were no high school Latin teaching positions, so I took a post as a grade 5 teacher. I loved it! The next year it was a 4/5 split class. That was stressful! No matter how much I prepared I felt that the students weren't getting enough. The following year I taught in a departmentalized junior high.
Then Jim graduated from seminary and we started having babies, four in all! I absolutely loved that time of life, and soon enough we were into the next stage: providing for and bringing up four children. When the youngest were in school I became a kindergarten teacher to four year-olds. That was fun!
We moved again and for a year I was not working (outside the home). In the meantime I was involved in the music area of the churches we served--playing organ and directing the choir. Then the opportunity came to teach Suzuki violin, and that was absorbing. I learned more from teaching violin than I ever did from taking lessons!
Another move and another new teaching position, this one as a Latin instructor in University of Regina--twenty-five years after studying Latin in college. THAT was a stretch! But it fit me like a glove! I felt like that was what I was supposed to do with my life. The next year teaching Greek Mythology was added. That was the biggest stretch I ever did! because I had never studied Greek mythology and had to learn it all before I could pass it on. But what a plum course! Such total fun to teach! I was scared silly before the first class--never having given a lecture and then starting with two hour classes in summer school. Once I got past the first week, it was all fun. Hard work, but (to coin a phrase) hard fun!
So this book prompted me to look back over my life and appreciate the value of all these "forced" evolutions. As a tree grows stronger from being buffeted by winds and storms, I've been enriched by all these adaptations in my life.
Reading further in Messy I realized something else. I prefer a very UNcluttered house. I don't like knickknacks or tchochkes hanging around! When it's time to dust and vacuum, the less "rubbish" the quicker the job is done. BUT here in the condo I have one 5' x 5' closet that is stuffed with "stuff." My sewing machine, my serger, packs of material, bags of yarn, cases of sewing tools, art supplies and now a keyboard all manage to fit into that space. It's organized, kind of. But there's not quite enough room for all the things I need, so my violin and viola and several stacks of music have found a home in the corner of the tv/spare bedroom.
Back in home-home (Alberta) I have a somewhat larger space for all that. There's a good sized bedroom closet there that has shelves full of materials: quilting cottons, battings, and material for creating clothing and there's a 12' x 12' area for working. That area is lined with makeshift tables (melamine board on top of see-through drawers). Sometimes the floor is almost obscured by a pile of material scraps that I paw through in creating a real scrap quilt.
The difference between these areas is this: where I have work that needs to be done but that I don't really enjoy doing, I want clear sailing. But where there needs to be rich and varied resources maybe MESSY wins the day. ----- Um ----- kind of an organized messy.