Order! Order!

When I was young, I loved to open brand-new boxes of crayons. I loved the smell of the crayons and I loved the sharpener. I especially loved the organization of the box. Each crayon was perfect, and each row was perfectly aligned.

That love of order has carried over into my adult life. There is an expression “everything in its place, and a place for everything”. I keep things organized, I put things back, and I keep a lot of lists. I like order.

I am easily distracted, especially visually. I have a need to look at only one thing at a time. My desk is always clear, and so are my personal spaces, like my car and my bedside table. I have eliminated all of the clutter and distractions. I like orderly surroundings. My colleagues know this, and sometimes (just to tease me) they will move things around on my desk.
If you’ve ever had a toddler, or a puppy, or taken care of an ill relative, you know that it isn’t always possible to keep things organized. I remember picking up little puzzle pieces and toys in my home for what seemed like decades when my daughters were young. There are dog toys all over my home right now (my dog doesn’t have the same need for organization that I do).

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Even if you are not organized, you want some people in your life to be very organized. You want your surgeon, your pilot and your accountant to be organized. If you’ve ever read a story about a surgeon who left a surgical instrument inside a patient, or an accountant who forgot to file client income tax returns, you know what I mean.

There is a book about creating organization in important situations, called “The Checklist Manifesto”. It has great pointers for people who want (or need) more organization in their lives.
I married someone who is even more organized than I am. She would deny that, but she is highly organized. Because of her, bills are paid on time, birthdays are remembered, and appointments are kept. She is the glue that keeps our family life together.

I should take a moment to say how grateful I am for that. I am grateful for it because order means a lot to me. I experience order on a gut level. At the most basic level, my experience is “order=safety” and “chaos=danger”. So I try to keep things as orderly as possible, for my own peace of mind.

Many years ago, (before children), we lived in an apartment complex. There was a resident who lived in our building who would go out to the parking lot every day, and sweep the parking lot. I used to call her “the Sweeper”. I suppose that it gave her some peace of mind to do that. I think she was trying to create some order out of chaos in her life.

I am reminded of the line in the movie “The Incredibles”, where Mr. Incredible says “I just cleaned up this mess-can we keep it clean for ten minutes!”

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