I LOVED this article by Meg Wolitzer, which might surprise her. She writes, “Not long ago, hearing me complain about not finding something, a friend offered to buy me a consult with a professional organizer. As the date approached, I imagined the organizer sitting beside me, and this was like picturing someone in bed with me whom I really didn’t want there.”
She talks about …
How her things are organized into “bales of hay” in her room, the “silo,” instead of neatly color coded files and organization.
I love this statement, because I hope she might find another farming related metaphor to describe the levels of organized chaos she does want in her life.
It doesn’t sound like she’s happy with the bales of hay. Yet there likely is a comfortable in between ales of hay and those too-organized-and-perfect systems we read about (and many of us, including yours truly, find too complex and restrictive to use).
“I don`t recommend disorder as a way of life; but sometimes, as I look for what I need, I come upon interesting things I don`t need. Recently, a 20-year-old letter reminded me of a lost friendship and made me remember how people used to write letters to one another, which made me want to jot down notes for an epistolary novel.”
This to me, is about wants and needs; if we only had in our lives what we needed, wouldn’t that be … boring? Where’s the adventure, the color, the serendipity?
And honestly, if she believes she takes a reasonable amount of time to find what she needs, then I see nothing wrong at all with a trip down memory lane. Too many trips, delaying when she works on what she needs to work on, sure, that becomes a problem. But an occasional trip? I’m not reading any issues here with organization … I’m reading acceptance and embracing who she is and what she wants.
Like so much in life, it’s about balance: the orderliness versus the serendipity, here of finding lost treasures and memories. She’ll either keep them, or it may be that she needs one more time to say “goodbye.” Her choice, though, in the balance of things.
I once worked with a woman who purposefully hid cards in her bookcase, cards given to her by her husband and children. Months afterward, what a surprise she’d find as she took out a particular book. Just imagine how that would feel.
Meg Wolitzer describes it with this example: “Coming across certain individual items activates my thoughts. I occasionally feel a burst of emotion upon finding a drawing made by my child. It makes me get up and go talk to that child, who looms over me now, deep voiced, grown.”
If she ever decided the balance is awry, of order/chaos, want/need, or memories/lost time, and hired a professional organizer, I hope Meg would be surprised by their collaboration. A great organizer doesn’t lecturel, judge or presume to be an expert on Meg – because this is about Meg, not about papers. The organizer honors the client’s personal sense of balance of orderliness and serendipity in her life. A really great organizing coach will ask the powerful questions to engage the client in discovering her own insights about her want and needs, a much bigger goal than papers organization.
Reference: Ms. Wolitzer’s article is titled The Secret Delights of Disorder.