Monday, September 8, 2014

Our Mess Is Our Message

In the continuing saga that is my huge de-cluttering project in my home of 14 years, I made an astonishing discovery in the big storage closet underneath the pile of Christmas decorations, a table top Christmas tree and plastic Santas. I found three more boxes of files and papers. Having spent an entire week in the den cleaning out file cabinets and desks, this discovery was a less than welcome sight. Since this adventure in cleaning out my life as well as my home has turned into more of a Quest For The Holy Grail-type adventure rather than a chore that was put off too long, I decided to sit down that minute and deal with those boxes. I wanted to be rid of this paper monster once and for all.

In the span of an hour I was surrounded by paper. I separated it all into three piles: keep, shred, recycle. What I found was a statement about my life up until this point. I found the mortgage papers on a house that burned down 20 years ago; the child immunization records for my 42 year old daughter; phone bills from when I lived in another state; the paper I wrote in my senior year of collage that won me the Philosophy of Religion Award at graduation (I was quite the intellectual back then); my clippings from my days as a reporter and feature writer for a local newspaper;  bank statements and cancelled checks from a bank that no longer exits, etc. The list goes on and on. Is it any wonder that for the last 15 years I have been having trouble moving forward in my life? My past was literally weighing me down! As I looked at the piles around me on the floor it became clear to me that my mess was my message. This was the message that I was sending out into the world: I'm stuck, I can't move my life forward, I am living in the past, I am letting my memories become my future. So I pulled out only those things that I loved or that brought value to my life: a painting done by my very  first grandchild when she was in grade school of me with the title, "Portrait of My Grammy," my clippings and the award winning paper that I wrote (after all, words are my life's passion), and a few other small items. The rest went into one of the other two piles.

When I think about my mess being my message, I think about the kind of messes that send out a message of happiness, love, family and contentment. I think of the pile of dirty dishes after a holiday meal with loved ones, of a table covered with newspaper, paints and paper filled with the creations of my grandchildren, or the empty flower pots, spilled potting soil and dirty gardening gloves on my porch that created a living, breathing sanctuary of green. Those are the kinds of messes we should all be lucky enough to live in. I want the new life that I am creating to only have messes that make me glad to be alive. That, my friends, is the Holy Grail of life.

And so it is.

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