Order and the Balance of Life
By Cathy Shippey on August 16, 2012
I criticize those around me for their obsession with order. Their behavior appears obsessive-compulsive by nature. An extreme case may be my friend Bob who brings his coffee- maker to work every day; preventing a fire while he is away from home. He can’t just unplug it; that wouldn’t eliminate the possibility of the hazard. While Bob’s routine may lie on the side of a disorder, I’m afraid it’s similar to my view of the right side of the kitchen sink.
I am naturally right-handed, washing dishes and placing them to the right in the dish drainer to dry. I find myself cleaning and re-cleaning the countertop on that side, and purposefully placing the dirty items to be washed on the left. After a family dinner I become distraught when I catch helpful members setting their plates, containing scraps of our meal, to the right. I try not to appear ‘freaked-out’, while calmly and methodically moving them to the left. Doesn’t everyone feel the way I do? This idiosyncrasy of mine seems quite normal to me; my procedure used to preserve sanity while maintaining order.
My children’s toys were kept orderly using my system of plastic buckets; each one designated for a collection of specific toys. I found myself overwhelmed by the sight of a Bratz doll in a bucket clearly designated for the Barbie dolls, or a Power Ranger toy mixed with the Mighty Max’s. Bottoming out, I corralled my children to sit in a circle and like an Army drill sergeant, I instructed them to help me sort a bucket of miss-matched items. “Where does this belong, Bratz or Barbi?!” I felt desperate when none of us knew a toy’s origin.
Then there are the lists of ‘to-do’ items. I feel accomplished when I can scratch off at least two of a five item list. Then, a new list is created, hopefully carrying over the unfinished items from the previous list. Often a new to-do item pops up that isn’t on the list, but takes priority over all other entries. At the end of the day it appears as though I’ve accomplished nothing when I’m exhausted from the day’s events. Days go by, the list is misplaced, and I find myself creating a whole new list with tasks that may or may not have been left from a previous list. What about the items that never get done and suddenly drop off the list? How did they make the list originally?
As the years have gone by, my life experiences have lessened my need for orderly routines. Suddenly the organization of toys is not worth the time; just get them in a bucket and I will be satisfied. I am not so compelled to race to get the dishes done, (but I still require the dirty ones to the left!) I dream of a tidy household that is strict with orderly routines, leaving us forever in robotic (or psychotic) motion to efficiently and effortlessly get the job done. For now, I will start my Monday list, and say my secret prayer that Bob remembers his coffee pot!