Monday, January 5, 2009

An Uncluttered Mind

Do you know someone who doesn't have to launch a search in their house for anything that they haven't used in two days? Do they know when you have left something there after you leave because they know what was there before you arrived? Does this person use their personal calendar religiously and so would never forget their best friend's daughter's wedding, inviting hurtful spousal accusations that they didn't really care about the event? I'll bet they don't miss paying bills and if they did, they wouldn't be paralyzed with guilt, prompting them to keep it a secret from their spouse out of a misguided sense that they should be above such snafus. This person is also likely finished with their day's demands so that they can just sit around at night, and never leaves home for non-social purposes after dark. And, finally, if you have a favor to ask of such a rarefied personage, they probably have plenty of time to do it without causing the rest of their day to resemble a train coming to an emergency stop with all the cars running into each other.
There is a continuum, to be sure, but I have a theory that the more organized and together you are in your personal life, the less time and energy you spend on the doings and dynamics of the world at large. Even as I write this, I know that it sounds like sour grapes from an envious, unregenerate scatterbrain. This is really just a hard concept to communicate. I'm not talking about someone who doesn't care about anyone else. And, I'm not saying that organization doesn't free up time for outside interests. It's just that some folks just have an approach to life that doesn't allow distraction from keeping their own ducks in a row. How can you serve as a paragon of home, hearth and garden and still take time to read for pleasure, write to your congressman regularly, take off for a three day church weekend more than once every year and a half, get involved in charitable or political causes and homeschool your kids, or even just teach them how to write a paragraph?
What people like me struggle with is the desire to do everything that piques our interest, to the degree that there is no time at all for domestic competence. That is because we live in the mental realm so much more than the physical. The rub is that because, living in a world of what's right, we know that hubby and the house are also of major importance and we think we should be good at all of it. Throw in a job, and you've really got trouble.
I know a dear woman who has very limited grammatical skills and a vocabulary to match, hasn't given a thought to education since she graduated high school fifty years ago, votes a straight party ticket because it's efficient, reads her bible for the instruction and comfort it offers without any ongoing doctrinal questions, sees widely disparate people featured on TV without thinking any more about them once the show goes off, and just basically lives comfortably in the certainty of what she already knows and is good at. She is a killer cook, sews nicely, has artistic talent, and loves her family unconditionally. To those of us who have our antennae tuned to the whole world and and just expect home to take care of itself because it seems like it will always be there after the important stuff is done, it's hard to remember that the physical realm is actually important.
As a matter of fact, when you have to replace the car that you have driven for fifteen years, it's hard to make the loan officer understand that you were too busy composing and passing out bulletins detailing you congressman's spending habits as they contrast with his Constitutional limitations to manage to get the stamps necessary to mail out the bills you carried around in your purse for a month. And the fact that you actually wrote out the checks on time, even at the sacrifice of your sleep, really doesn't cut a lot of ice once you're in the finance office. It's frustrating to be compared negatively to people who think Austria and Australia are the same place, based on the similarity of pronunciation, but when you are focusing on performance in a substantive arena of real life, like money, a person's listening skills and grasp of history pales compared to their organizational and fiscal reliability.
In short, it's easy to be shocked that someone you care about listens and cares very little about the noise the world surrounds us with, but we shouldn't be surprised when it turns out that they figured out long ago that they couldn't do both. Some rare people can, but it's hard to accept that it's simply realism to choose the concrete over the abstract if you want things to run smoothly and be seen as someone who has life by the reins. I'm afraid it's too late for me. I just wish the arena I live in was valued as much by those who matter to me, as that quantitative, results-based one is. Then I could accept that it's just the way things are, that dinner is at 8:30 and I have to have a week's notice to produce the car title.


Kristi said...

I don't think it's necessarily that difficult. It is a matter of balance on the one hand and perspective on the other. it's a delicate balance and it is always different for each person. The point of it all is to simply feel fulfilled in whatever it is you are or aren't doing.

CallMeAnn said...

I get what you're saying. I knew I had missed the mark slightly. I do have a point that there is a choice made early in many people's lives that rules out "having your antennae up" regarding the world at large. Those people consider lots of what we ponder to be a distraction. I was considering starting a journal with my further thoughts, but I don't want to obsess.