This mess drives me nuts

The title of this post is something I said as a little kid. It was a phrase I said quite a bit, so much so that it ended up in my baby book as one of my favorite things to say. And there's a part of me that really let this idea stick and let messiness affect me.

Until relatively recently, I'd see not taking out the trash or cleaning up as a personal failing. In my continuing practice of understanding myself, I've sought out why  this is. Because truly, not all of me wants to make things immediately neat. There's a part of me  that looks at a mess and has these really negative thoughts. A lot of me really doesn't care.

Part of the reason I put so much value in being neat is because I had put so much value in things . As I've noted here, literal things can generally be controlled. There's a part of me that really likes that notion; it makes me feel good and like I'm accomplishing something. Straightening up or cleaning up has a very clear outcome: something will be less messy. And for me that was a positive boost, something that felt really good once done (although I haven't really cared for the act of cleaning - in the moment - very much). I also have a hard time half-assing a project or not finishing it: once I've started, I must  finish. (That's another topic.)

I started zooming out and looking at what was happening at the same time as all of this. And there's so much. It could be that I could have some time to write or think or be . It could be that my son, who hasn't seen his daddy all day, wants to play with some cars. It could be that my wife, who hasn't seen her husband all day, wants to talk and connect. It could be... almost anything else.

In those moments, then, I pause and take a breath. I ask myself, "Is this really the thing I want and need to be doing right now?" And sometimes, yes, I need to take out the trash. Not exciting. That's okay. And there's a part of me that will be super happy I'm doing it. But all too often I've constructed such artificial importance around neatness as to take away from what is truly important: people.

I strongly suspect I won't let things get to a Sims level of dirtiness, ever - we're not going to have dirty dishes stacked on the floor due to a full kitchen sink - but I'm becoming more comfortable with having a little mess, having a little imperfection.