Because in the school of the Spirit,
man learns wisdom through humility,
knowledge by forgetting,
how to speak by silence,
how to live by dying.
-Johannes Tauler

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

the neat freak

Julie and I have found many differences between us as we've lived together this year, and one of the most obvious is in our housekeeping styles. When I first moved in, I would see Julie's friends here and there, and they would say, "How is it living with Julie?" And I would honestly say to anyone, even now, she is a great roommate. But then they would make a comment like, "She says you're really clean!" That always struck me, because I didn't just hear it from one or two people, but from a few! I wondered what Julie was thinking in making that comment to so many people - if maybe she found this to be annoying or a problem or something. 

We laugh about it sometimes, because if you were to observe each of us walking into a room, you might note that by time I've left, it looks like a vacuum has gone through. By the time Julie has left, it looks like a tornado has gone through. I think I'm exaggerating for both of us, but it does paint the right kind of picture: I'm really neat, and she is, well, let's say more free in her placement of objects. 

One explanation I offered is that it has to do with the composition of our minds. Julie is quite level-headed and sensible, organized when it comes to projects and committees, and generally knows what's going on and how she feels about it. My theory is that because her brain is so organized, her room doesn't have to be. She's got it all in order in her head, so why waste the time ordering all the paperwork and whatever else that goes with it? 

I, on the other hand, am not quite as even-tempered. I recently heard it said that if a man's brain operates like a waffle (everything in boxes), a woman's is like a plate of spaghetti (I'm sure you understand this analogy). Well, I am a plate of spaghetti with red and white sauce, meatballs, mushrooms, onions, garlic pepper, and parmesan cheese. Ew. What a mess. 
So, because I feel like a crazy person more often than I'd like to admit, a clean room (a place for everything and everything in its place), organized email inbox, a boxed and neatly labeled calendar, and generally, an organized style of living is crucial for my sanity. I can't cook if the kitchen is messy. I can't write a paper if there's stuff all over my desk. I can't sleep if I have clothes on the floor or books out of place on the shelf or stuff on my bathroom counter that should be in a cabinet or drawer. 

Hi, my name's Missy and I may or may not be borderline OCD. 

It's a blessing and a curse, as you might imagine, but I've been wondering if maybe this is why this idea of poverty and striving to live that out has become so attractive to me. The less 'stuff' one has, the less one has to clean up or keep track of. And of course, this does not just apply to material possessions. A life that is rightly ordered and balanced will bring with it peace and calm. That means not having more than is needed, taking the right amount of time to sleep, to work, to eat, to exercise, to recreate, and most importantly to PRAY, and within each of those things balancing routines, diets, exercises, activities, devotions: living life to the full. Certainly how that plays out looks somewhat different for everyone, but our bodies, our souls, and our minds were created with definite, non-negotiable necessities: you must sleep, you must eat, you must pray (this could be the lone subject of an entire post), you must do some sort of physical activity, you need down time... 

I do a lot of rambling on here, which means you could have probably guessed my mind looks like that spaghetti plate I described. But through this experiment of poverty, and in continuing to order my life rightly, hopefully I can at least switch to penne pasta. At least then the noodles aren't so tangled. And as we all learn at some point or another, you can't switch up the recipe without the help of the Executive Chef. +

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