Our house has gotten away from us. As occasionally happens, we have completely given over to the chaos - books and toys strewn everywhere, boys clothes in various sizes under the couch, an inch of dust and sticky floors. We've only managed to maintain the dishes and the laundry simply because they reproduce themselves at a rate that rivals the fruit flies that are gorging themselves on our kitchen compost bin. The grown ups got sick, the kids had pinkeye, school let out creating the perfect storm of three boys at home multiple days during the week, and mom and dad began having discussions about the equal division of labor - a path that usually leads to no one doing anything while waiting for the other to do his or her fair share. My spirit became broken after too many days of the sisyphean task of picking up after the baby verging on toddlerhood whose favorite pass time is dumping things out of baskets and pulling things off tables and shelves.
Eventually the discomfort caused by The Mess will become stronger than all the elements that caused us to just give up for a while and we will clean up. The need for creating order and the desire to give up are just different responses to the overwhelming feeling of being faced with the law of entropy. Things fall apart. Everyday, every moment, things are in the process of becoming loosed from their proper places. It bothers me. I am neither a good housekeeper nor someone who can live comfortably in a messy dirty house. I need somehow to change my perspective on this situation and become more emotionally detached from housekeeping.
So today I took a walk around the neighborhood. Often on walks such as these, I spend a lot of time envying what my neighbors have - front yard gardens, nicer houses, functioning garages. Today I spent time looking closer - one of my favorite houses has siding issues like our house, some of those gardens have the same random mass of plants as exists on the side of our house. For someone who spends a lot of time focused on details, I realized that I don't pay very close attention to details of other people's lives. An overall effect of well-being is enough to come to a judgment that things are well. In contrast, I apply a laser beam focus to the details of my own life and I fear that the level of scrutiny causes a great sense of dissatisfaction. If I am always aware of the ways something in my life falls short, how do I enjoy the deep goodness that exists in the things I have? This perfectionism causes me to expend energy endlessly cataloguing areas of improvement and also causes me to crash eventually from the overwhelming realization that there will never be a time when my self-imposed to-do list has all its items permanently checked off. Like I said, I need a paradigm shift. I need to practice looking at my own life for the overall effect, or, if I do delve into the realm of details, to disinvest and see things as themselves rather than as a reflection of my own shortcomings. I want to find that there is as much beauty in disorder as there is in order so I feel neither the inability to let go or the need to just give up.