“Science is organized knowledge. Wisdom is organized life.”
“Successful organizing is based on the recognition that people get organized because they, too, have a vision.”
“There was a man
And some did think him mad.
The more he cast away
The more he had.”
John Bunyan – Pilgrim’s Progress
I’ve been organizing my physical spaces, and therefore I’ve been organizing my life. In the last few days I have thoroughly cleaned my car including the trunk and the glove compartment. While I am not quite at the level of having a TV show done about my lack of organization, like Hoarders, I have had some pretty huge messes for many years. Once, my car was so messy that a friend thought I was homeless. Twice I was in a car accident, both times totaling my car. When I had to clean out the trunk, it was almost impossible. I’ve cleaned out my trunk before, more than once. I’ve cleaned out other areas before, more than once, but they always go back to the way it was, if not worse. It’s like those verses in the Bible:
"Now when the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and does not find it. Then it says, 'I will return to my house from which I came'; and when it comes, it finds it unoccupied, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. That is the way it will also be with this evil generation."
Perhaps things weren’t worse, but they never really got better. Every physical area of my life was a cluttered and disorganized mess. Some of it still is, but something has been changing. It is the process of change that fascinates me.
I’ve had changes in my life that have seemed sudden and dramatic. Sometimes they were permanent and sometimes they faded. I think change is both sudden and gradual. Over the last year-and-a-half, since I began writing my blogs, I have seen my life change dramatically, but it didn’t happen in one day or with one blog. It happened over days, weeks, and months and over the process of writing many blogs. These changes have been personal, spiritual, professional, and financial. I am still in the midst of all of them. I have not “arrived,” but I am arriving. I am becoming. As Irwin Kula might say in Yearnings – Embracing the Sacred Messiness of Life, I am “Roberting.” This process began when I wrote my first blog, but it didn’t stop there.
With regard to organizing, there were a few things that happened. First, my Muse was telling me that I needed to simplify and organize. She would tell me this through others and though my increasing dissatisfaction with my physical environment. Then one day, I read someone mention simplifying, and suddenly I wanted fewer things in my life. I started selling things on eBay and each sale represented not only a small financial victory, but also an emotional one. I was clearing out my life. I was getting rid of things I really didn’t need, or even want. Sometimes I would lose money on the sale, but it was worth it to have just a little more space.
I had heard these principles before, but this time I was ready.
Then I heard T Harv Eker say, “I won’t do business with anyone who has a messy car.”
That was it. That was the last piece I needed. Soon I started working on my car, then my garage. I would devote 30 – 60 minutes a day cleaning. I found that if I tried to do it all at once I would get overwhelmed. But I could certainly do a little each day. I also used The Rule of Five, that is, every time I went to my garage or car, I would get rid of at least five things. Often it was ten or twenty or more. It felt liberating.
There were also a couple of other emotional changes that were different from other times when I tried to get organized. The first was that at the beginning of this process I actually visualized what my garage would look like when it was cleaned and orderly. This visualization came unbidden and unconsciously. It just appeared. I could see it. I decided to apply this consciously then. I could see my trunk or my glove compartment looking empty and clean – and I could create it. I’d never been able to do this before.
One other major change was that I no longer believed the following:
“I should keep this because I may need it one day.”
I think that belief (Lie? Excuse? Fear?) has kept me trapped in clutter more than anything else. There may have been something even deeper. When I was about five years old, in Scotland, I heard that some people were coming to take away all our toys. I remember being scared and wanting to hide in a room somewhere far away, where I could never be found, with all my toys and never have them taken away. Though I grew older, I don’t think I ever lost that fear. I found myself hiding away for years with all kinds of toys. Only they were no longer toys. They were comic books, clothes, books, scrap pieces of paper, old check registers, boxes full of stuff I hadn’t touched in years. I couldn’t throw them away because they were part of my past; they were part of me. If I gave up any part of my past, I was giving up part of me. Perhaps I was giving up the possibility of finding my birth mother.
But everything I had saved wouldn’t save me. In fact, it was preventing me from growing; it was preventing me from being free and clear. Now I understand I can keep some things, even a lot of things. But not everything. In fact, not most of it. Some of it I can keep in boxes, or photo albums, or file folders. Most of it I can recycle, donate, or eliminate.
So now my trunk has been clean and organized for almost a week. There are very few things in it and what is in it, I either need, or will take somewhere else. If I had to completely empty my trunk now, it would take less than a minute.
I am not a “born-again organizer.” I won’t be preaching to everyone how to get more organized. Although I think this work is different from past efforts, I am aware that I could backslide. More demons could return. So I will remain vigilant and prayerful. I will take it one day at a time. I will keep working on simplifying my spaces and my soul. I will Get Started and Keep Going.