Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Place for Everything

Those following these blogs may remember my car was broken into by someone determined to steal an old ratty Jansport backpack filled with classical music Xeroxes. The window finally got fixed, but now I needed a new backpack. I found a Jansport backpack and bought it quickly without thinking. But now I have buyer’s remorse.

The old backpack had one outside zippered pocket and one main compartment. This one has five. So everyday as I arrive at class, I spent way too many minutes fumbling through each compartment: “Is this where I put the recorder? Where is the homework folder? I’m sure I put my Memo book somewhere.”

The solution is obvious. Pick one compartment for each type of thing and put it in the same place. Every day. Every time. As Maria Montessori so wisely said, “A place for everthing. Everything in its place.” I wish she could be my personal assistant.

So much wisdom there. Not only in terms of organizing your life so things are retrievable and dependably where they’re supposed to be, but in the larger picture of understanding everything. When someone’s behavior goes against the grain of my expectation of behavior, it feels “out of place” and disturbing. When I can locate it inside a recognizable and dependable pattern—even a negative one— things feel better.

Wendell Berry once said, “Order is rest.” Maybe that’s why I love music so much. It is the orderly progression of sounds that soothe my soul and create meaning to a day that carries its share of chaos. What disturbs order rattles the psyche.

My chaotic front room awaits my cleaning and it’s not that I don’t enjoy sorting and filing away. It’s all the things that have no obvious place or could be in two different places or would have a place if I had room in my small house. That’s what drives me crazy.

I jotted down a few other thoughts on a piece of paper and stuck them in my backpack. I know they’re in there somewhere… hold on a minute…

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