Simple answer: no. You can’t get rid of all of it … there will always be some mess. Fact.
It’s like when you move house – you try to pack everything neatly into boxes, but some things don’t fit and you have to carry them separately or tied up with string. And when you get to your new home, there’s always at least one box that never gets unpacked properly. This box stays in a corner … the messy corner. By the way, this is the box your odd socks travel in, waiting, just waiting, and hoping for their missing companions to show up.
This messy corner exists in life as well … in our surroundings and in our mind and in our relationships. And we can drive ourselves crazy constantly running around attempting to tidy up every last piece of mess, or we can accept its presence as a natural part of our existence. If a person can see the mess as natural rather than negative, this can prove to be a huge relief to them, and they can relax a little, because they no longer have the unrealistic expectation that there shouldn’t be any mess. (The should’ves, could’ves and would’ves will get you every time – watch out for these parasites.)
Another way to look at the messiness of life is to consider how we react to the weather. The unpredictable, constantly changing weather is the perfect example of messy. The weather is mess on steroids, hugely influencing our environment every day. But while it may influence how hot or cold or wet or dry you are, how much do you let the weather influence your mood? Have you ever let the natural messiness of the weather turn into a negative approach to your day? Or do you know someone who does that regularly? Don’t you think that’s weird? We all know the weather will do what it wants, that it will often be at odds with our plans, and yet we get cranky and complain when the inevitable occurs. Rather than have a wet-weather plan we can feel good about, we’d rather just hope the weather is sunny and dry and then get all grumpy when it’s not. That’s like getting upset because you can’t lift a 3 ton rock boulder with your bare hands.
Here’s an example of what I mean. And guess what? It stars you!
Let’s say your big plan for tomorrow is to place a tray of salt out in the sunshine (you really do have some strange hobbies, don’t you?) You’ve really been looking forward to this, as this is your favourite tray of salt, and all your friends are coming round to watch the white crystals glistening beneath the Solar God – ( did I tell you this is a sacred pagan ritual you’ve been following for years?)
So tomorrow comes and your friends arrive in their white robes, odd socks and hamster-skin sandals. Unfortunately, the rain arrives, too. Bugger! No sun – and no salt left either, if you let the rain reach it. So what do you do? Scream at the clouds and wave your fists at the hidden, inconsiderate sun? No, of course not, because you grew out of that approach years ago, and you have Plans B, C and D … a different pagan ritual for each type of weather. This realistic approach embraces messiness, and enables you and your friends to enjoy life to the full, even without perfect climate control. So, instead of a tray of salt, you bring out a tray of seeds, which welcome the water. And you are your friends launch into a Germination Chant – instead of a Dissolution Rant.
Messy doesn’t care what you think about it, and it’s not going away anytime soon. So I suggest we learn to live with it, and, where possible, turn it to our advantage. Shit happens, and so does messy. What you decide to do with it is integral to your personal growth.
So what’s your take on all this? What does messy mean to you? Tell me what’s in your ‘messy corner’ and how that makes you feel. Tell me about some control freak you know who rejects the notion of messy, and whose losing battle against reality is eating them up. Perhaps the most important question is this – how can life be messy and happy at the same time?
Over to you.
In collaboration with Graeme Bowman
Part of ‘The Odd Socks Guide to Personal Growth’ book writing journey
Also published on Medium.