My Messy Desk: What it means and how it has nothing to do with you. :)

Caution Crass Language In Use

I don’t know how long people have been classified as either messy or clean but its been centuries at least. Being clean is like being thin. It’s what you want to be, what you should aspire to above all else. Messiness on the other hand is worse than being fat. You do not want to be perceived as messy. It’s a sign of things being wrong with your mind apparently. I’m both cluttered and fat so I struggle a great deal with justifying my own existence while also being pissed off that I’m expected to do so.

There has been shown to be a correlation between creative people and messy desks or work spaces. Many visual artists work in the center of what looks likes frenzied chaos. Strokes of genius are crowded in with abandoned mistakes. I find this to be beautiful. Just look at all that stuff, all those man hours! Einstein, Twain and Jobs have all been shown to have had cluttered desks and all were undeniably brilliant. This is not to say that these things are causally related. I don’t think the clutter made them brilliant. I don’t believe that having shit everywhere is a sign that you know how to think outside the box. I do think that the adage that “genius is seldom tidy” rings true and that clutter may be a sign that you are in the presence of a great mind. It simply swirls around us because of how we do things.

I’ve run into some chatter over what effects clutter has on people. In the end, I just think neat freaks can’t understand how someone can function in the world without being organized. God forbid someone be different from you and successful too. Allow me to enlighten you, friend because I have figured it out. I did all on my own through logic and observation without harming or even inconveniencing a single lab rat.

Using myself as an example I will walk you through it. My desk has recently been “organized” so I can see vast expanses of glass. It still has: one laptop – in use, one monitor – not in use, a stein of pens, a bottle of hand lotion, post it notes, a mug, a nail file, a roll of tissue, a canister of push pins, a fork, tweezers, nail clippers, a pile of magic cards, a small hammer, an empty vodka bottle, nail polish, three sets of ear buds, a single ear plug, a small tambourine, two tea lights, a hair clip, nail stickers, a lint free cloth for my glasses, my sippy cup and (drum roll please) a fascinator. This is just the list from the surface that houses my laptop. The attached set of shelves has everything from tarot cards to chocolate chips. The only thing missing from this picture is my glasses, which are safely tucked away in their case, in my purse. They are the most organized thing in my life and they are fucking useless to me where they are!

This is what you call organized chaos. I understand this desk perfectly. There is a place for everything and everything is in it’s place- right within arm’s reach. When I need something, I don’t have to look for it. Best of all, I don’t even have to leave the room. To my right is my water. I drink a lot of water. I simply keep it where I need it. In the summer I brink up a whole pitcher. Likewise the snacks on the shelf to my left remove the need to leave the office to eat. Also, sometimes when I’m up here I do my nails, hence all the nail polishing items. Painting my nails is something that I can do while thinking about what I’m going to write next, so it is part of my creative process as well as a self care tool that is important to my mental health. I still have pictures to hang so there is no point in putting away the push pins or the hammer yet. On and on it goes but at the center is one simple theme.

Creative people exercise time management. We are fucking busy! We prioritize our time, consciously or not, to spend it engaged with our passion. I consider my time to be very precious. I work a full time job with a commute. I am simultaneously writing not one, but a series of novels in a world of my own creation. Time spent organizing my desk, hanging pictures, doing dishes, even cooking meals is time I am not writing. Therefore to me it is a waste of time. I do not treat house hold tasks with a sense of urgency. The dishes will be there when the muses have left so I choose not to spend all my time fighting the entropy of the house work.

On the flip side the idea I just had will fade away if I don’t write it down. I got out of bed last night just to put a joke in here. More often than not, that idea feeds another idea and another and before you know it, its midnight and the dishes aren’t done. At that point I have to prioritize sleep because I still have to work to earn a living. I could end this cycle, I suppose, by always choosing to do the dishes instead of writing but let’s face it that is not going to happen. Writing is like working out. If I take a day off, I don’t feel the same the next day. I’m not as sharp. I have to fight an upward battle to get back into shape. I have learned this the hard way and so I choose to write over anything I feel can wait.

Here’s the only part that gets me: that I even need to justify this to anyone. Honestly what my house or desk looks like has “now’t to do with you” as the Irish say. People make it their business because being tidy is heralded as being a good a thing and being slovenly is looked down on as indicative of a problem with your mind. “A cluttered space equals a cluttered mind.” Why so judgy? Besides, you say cluttered. I say active; potato, potahto, whatever. I don’t have trouble finding my thoughts and I don’t know what I would do if they were neatly pigeon holed away.

If clutter gives you anxiety then you need to not have clutter. The same is not true for me. One person may find great joy in spending the weekend organizing their basement and closets. Just thinking of that much time spent on a boring task that takes me away from my creative process is giving me a panic attack, right now. I would only be doing it to meet some standard that I find oppressive, offensive and unnecessary. That sets off my anxiety. Yet because of societal pressures I am tortured by the fact that I don’t find fulfillment in housework. I’ve had to realize that what I do with my time has value too.

If we really want to whip our dicks out and play who does more with their time, um I’m building a world. That means I’m creating cultures, a physical map, cities, governments, languages as well as characters. I’m also writing a story inside that world at the same time. Today I started a war. I birthed two new characters and started them on the path to love. I invented an airship that runs on sunlight, bitch! What did you do today? Played with some storage bins? Congratu-fucking-lations.

See? That isn’t very nice. I would never say this to people because what I really think is that we should each respect what the other chooses to do with their time. I’m simply making the point that what looks like me sitting on my ass is actually yielding results even if you can’t see them yet. Let’s stop searching for the right way to do things and agree that the right way is the way that is right for you. Why do we insist on making everything a battle field? Why can we not all be right at the same time? Why can we not look at messy space and give the owner the benefit of the doubt? Maybe they’re just off doing something they find more important and that is completely valid. In a perfect world people would see the dishes in the sink and go “wow! She must be tearing it up! She hasn’t done dishes in days.”

Peace and Love, peeps!


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