I am a neat freak trapped inside the body of a not a neat freak. I can’t quite say I’m a pack rat because I am not that. I used to fantasize that if I lived in tiny space, one of those 500 square foot well organized homes that was the rage about ten years ago, that I would be the ultimate neat freak. I thought I would have a place for everything and there wouldn’t be a single non-essential item to clutter my life.
Now I’m living in two rooms neither of which is more than 50 square feet and I am surrounded by disorganization. Despite not having a place for things I do not dispose of them. Despite already having too much stuff for my woefully undersized living space, I acquired more stuff while in India.
Years ago when I was feeling embarrassed by the chaos that was my desk at work a friend explained something to me. He said that there are two types of people. There are In people and Out people. In people like to have everything out of sight. They will organize things into drawers, files, shelves anywhere so the things don’t create visual clutter. The Out people, he said, need to see everything they’re working on, the books they’re reading, the objects which define them must be visible. He took one look at my desk, covered as it was in papers, left over lunch, photos, collectibles and said that I was most definitely an out person.
Looking around myself now I have to believe he was right. I would love to have an In person take a pass at organizing what I have. First they’d probably toss half of it away. I can’t even begin to figure out where to start. My inclination is to erect more shelves but I know they’ll just end up covered in stuff. I could try a technique I’ve used at work. I get a big box and sweep everything off my desk and into it. Then I wait until I can’t find something to start digging for it in that box. Anything that is still in that box after two weeks, I throw away.
I am able to do that when all that is involved is paper. In the back of my mind I’m certain that I can reprint that paper if I should need something which I’d already disposed of. That isn’t true of the things that litter my personal space. Yet I’m getting to the point where I’d be willing to risk losing some possessions if it meant I could look around and see order, calm, and the top of my few pieces of furniture.