I must admit, growing up in the somewhat chaotic world of the farm, I crave order. I require it. It’s definitely necessary for my inner peace.
As Gretchen Rubin quotes in her book, Happier At Home, “outer order creates inner order.” Or, as a friend’s father used to say, “The state of your room is the state of your mind.” Or, as Oprah has pointed out, “The state of your wallet reflects the state of your finances.”
Therefore, it is a real discipline for me to allow my son’s clothes to lie where they are dropped, all over his room, day after day. I cannot let myself pick them up, even if I think that would be “good for him.”
As my brother-in-law once tongue-in-cheek pointed out, after I’d spent a week with my family, “Why should I put the glass away if Jennifer will just come along later and put it away for me?”
Now, like all things, it’s a matter of balance for me. Can I handle a little disorder and still be OK?
I was annoyed this morning when I realized my son had not taken out the trash cans last night, nor removed the recyclables from the kitchen. Therefore, I’d have to do it myself, in the rain.
Hmmm. Do you see a pattern here? (“Why should I take it out if Mom’s going to take it out for me?”)
The truth for me is actually yet another paradox: inner peace creates outer calm. As I have learned to cultivate inner calm, I’m better able to stay serene in the face of disorder.
But it does feel good to have that “outer clean” boost, as Gretchen points out. This week, my painter buddy, Anthony, is back in town. He has patiently and painstakingly painted this house, inside and out, for the past eight years: the garage, my daughter’s room (3 times), furniture, air vents, the laundry room. And the white fence that surrounds my garden.
After he moved away a couple years ago, mildew took over, so this week I asked him to power wash and touch up everything. Including the place on the pergola where my son scratched his initials (a brief knife-ownership phase).
Ahhh. Lovely. “Looks just as good as when I first painted it,” Anthony said, grinning and surveying his work.
Yes. It is good to restore order, to create order, to maintain order — in a garden and in life. Just not to the edge of military precision. I’ve got to let my son (and daughter, for that matter) grow a little wild — to move outside the edges and then back in. I’ve got to have a little tolerance for disorder in his world, so that he can feel, on his own, the difference between the two states, and decide what feels comfortable for HIM. Not me.
After all, he hung up his towel four days in a row last week! It’s a miracle!
Oh, these wildflowers. They will grow and bloom, just not in a straight line. Free. Tumbling. Wild. Finding their own particular and lovely beauty, in the divine order of all things.
In the garden.