Thursday, February 18, 2016

When simplicity stops being simple, it's time to back off

Courtenay at The Creek Line House blog poses a question: what's wrong with having a closet that's just, you know, a bunch of hangers on a rod and a shelf above?

Which is really asking several other questions, including the most obvious: why do people have so much stuff that a bunch of hangers on a rod and a shelf above won't suffice? Why do I need to fold my t-shirts a special way and insert them edge-up in the drawer, when I only have a few t-shirts anyway? If I only have a few pairs of shoes, then what does it matter if they're sitting without any special plan on the closet floor?

It reminded me of something else I read recently: How Charlotte Mason Crushed My Idol of Efficiency, by Lexy Sauvé. Lexy writes:
"I was exhausted from trying to keep up with the rigorous systems I had set up for myself and my family. I had believed the lie that righteousness, happiness, and satisfaction could come from submitting to regulations, human precepts, common sense, self-made religion, asceticism, and even severity of the body (Col. 2:20-23)."
Not that there's anything wrong with being organized.

But we are not human-shaped machines. Our lives, in spite of the efficiency experts, are not factories. Our clothes closets, to quote Courtenay's post, do not need to be stores. Neither do our garages, our refrigerators, or our homeschooling bins (although I've used the metaphor myself of "homeschool shopping from the cupboard").

To quote my early inspiration, Peg Bracken, it's okay sometimes to run out of things. Most of us don't live miles from nowhere, stranded for months while the train struggles to get through ice and blizzards; but we still have that mindset that envies the super-plasticked or Mason-jarred dry-foods storage system, or the super-checkoff-able homeschooling spreadsheet plan, or the alphabetized bookshelves. Because we have a dream somehow that the perfect system, and/or unlimited storage space, would make life easier, or at least more photographable.

Orderliness is good. Learning subjects bit by bit is fine. Going through a book chapter by chapter just makes sense. But when the storage system becomes more important than the closet contents, that's when we need to go back, maybe, to a bunch of hangers on a rod and a shelf above.

3 comments:

...they call me mommy... said...

This is SUCH a good post! Thank you! I can stress myself out putting crazy expectations on myself. Yes, I agree one needs to be organized, but being organized looks different for each person. My systems work well for me, generally, ;) but others probably would think they were very disorganized. ;)

Silvia said...

Bravo, Anne. And, hi Amy, yes to all you said.
We are not characters in a mystery novel, our life is not a conglomerate of problems in need of systems or solutions. Our organization should be organic, poetic too, it should follow pattern not policy -as Karen Cannon said yesterday in Colorado. Btw, she mentioned your butterfly and cabbage post, Anne, it a beautiful presentation. (Sorry for derailing)

Mama Squirrel said...

That butterfly story has gone from person to person, after starting out in Parables of Nature. Interesting how ideas "take wing."