Inventories and taking the census raise mixed emotions. We are sorters and counters at heart. At the same time we have some more important things to do right now like catching the latest show on TV. So classifying, enumerating, and sorting just have to wait until… you can’t find that thing you know you have someplace.
Do you know just what you have? Do you even know where it is? Do you care?
Being orderly of mind and stuff is for some an inbuilt character trait. Watch for the child who carefully arranges his blocks with all the animals on one side facing outward. There is a budding accountant, a future enumerator, a bean counter who will drive his spouse crazy with his attention to detail. The boy who sorts and re-sorts his baseball card collection is an incipient museum curator. For the rest of mankind orderliness is or has to be imposed from without.
Why the reluctance to dig in and make lists of the household contents? We long to be organized; books are written on how to bring order out of chaos in our lives, beginning with our ‘stuff.’ Most people have a junk drawer; for some, that describes every drawer. Because of the unwillingness to dig in and inventory, untold hours are spent in archaeological digs in drawer and closet hunting for that elusive, faintly remembered item.
Once we bite the bullet and decide to dig in, itemizing each object and recording its location, we tend to respond in different ways.
Way no.1—Turn and flee to a favorite distraction. The Procrastinator Route.
Way no.2—Immediately find a treasured item which side tracks the project while you go down memory lane. The Historical Route.
Way no.3—Get note pads. Sharpen pencils. Draw straight lines (where’s the ruler?) to make orderly columns. Puzzle over how many columns of information you need. Redraw the columns. Find that it is too late now to start since you spent so much time getting everything ready. Start dinner, instead. The Well Charted Route.
Way no. 4–Dig in and begin. Stay with the project even if it takes days, weeks. Read those books on organization. Spend a little money on notebooks, or files, or boxes or drawers that will be needed to get the job done. The Efficient, Orderly Route.
There are only a few, unique individuals who ever find their way to Way no. 4. They recognize that ordering their affairs is essential to save countless hours in the future. Three years hence when the dishwasher breaks they will be able to answer the questions of warranty, place purchased and cost without turning the household on its ear. Knowing where the files are kept, and when the kids had their DPT shots, and the number for that good plumber they had a few years back can save much aggravation. But there is an investment to be made in order to reap the desired state of unruffled tempers and time saved in that future day. It is giving a NOW time to the sorting, tossing, recording. Sacrificing the present day pleasure of fun and games, loafing and lounging, for the unknown that lies ahead is seldom appealing, but that is the required investment to assure a good return.
Just consider: what would the universe be like if it were as orderly as your junk drawer?