“Clutter and mess show us that life is being lived…Tidiness makes me think of held breath, of suspended animation… Perfectionism is a mean, frozen form of idealism, while messes are the artist’s true friend. What people somehow forgot to mention when we were children was that we need to make messes in order to find out who we are and why we are here.”
―Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
I know Brian is not a huge Anne Lamott fan, so he is probably cringing right now that I’ve used her here on the blog 😉 This is a quote from her book on writing, but with Lamott, you always get a message or two about life thrown in. She was huge for me in college, second only to Donald Miller.
I quote her today because I’m trying to hear her words and let them sink in, as I am living in a mess.
Brian would tell you that we are not living in a mess– but I know better. I see boxes and gifts and piles of things we don’t have a place for yet. I see things that need to be organized, dusted, sorted, thrown out, and simply dealt with. And since I don’t get home until 6:30 or 7:00 and then leave again at 6:40am, there simply isn’t time after the grading, thank you cards, dinner, and a couple hours of sleep. And my incredible husband with a heart to love on people keeps inviting those dang people over to come sit in our mess! Sigh.
So, what’s it going to take to change my eyes to see “that life is being lived” instead of chaos and dirt? How do I get past my “frozen form of idealism”? I just want to be that 1950’s picture of a wife so badly– the tidy home, the apron tied around the waist, the perfect hair, and dinner on the table when my husband gets home. But none of that is a reality. With my commute, Brian is having to cook dinner (which he is happy to do and spoils me with), and I look like someone who has been dealing with eleven year olds all day when I finally trudge through the door.
Life IS being lived. Why can’t I accept that? Our friends know what our schedules have been like– am I afraid of the judgment? Knowing that I theoretically have the ability to be an amazing hostess with a pristine house– is it that I need the compliments and approval?
Or maybe Lamott is right. Maybe I need this mess right now to find out who I really am and why I am here.
And if so, it’s a tough lesson.