Mess & Metamorphosis: The Dao of Preparation

One of the things I struggle with is keeping my home organized.

Getting ready to move (as part of my retirement planning) has provided a lesson in the dao of preparation for my total life change.

Cotton boll has many transformations
Cotton boll undergoes many transformations in its growth-use cycle.

Moving has been my excuse for letting things pile up. There was no reason to think that packing a mess is easier than packing well-organized possessions; the opposite is true.

Mail on the dining room table has become a pinwheel of papers. Notebooks and receipts, thick envelopes and catalogs swirl in dizzying disorganization.

Closets are easier to keep organized than rooms.

I can label the shelves, baskets, and other organizers. I put clothes where they belong no matter how tired I am, because labels make it easy.

Mail is the biggest time waster.

Some people say to chuck everything you don’t need to read on the spot. I don’t want to read anything on the spot when I get home late.  And I often forget or avoid it later.

As I searched for my phone book beneath the current cache of political ads, needless paperwork from various vendors, and miscellaneous ephemera — I noticed the melange was loosely arranged in three piles from less urgent to most.  Not bad for a subconscious sorting mechanism.

Out of this stew, a total life change is being formed. The caterpillar metamorphoses into a gooey mess before emerging as a butterfly. We often don’t like to think about the deep chthonic stew from which life emerges: ashes to ashes, dust to dust.  Except ashes and dust are euphemisms for the ooze, gunk, and stink that fertilize transformation.

We avert our eyes and our noses; only the brave investigator of the soul confronts such reality. Meditating on life’s inevitable changes — those that may be part of life or retirement planning and those that take us by surprise —

are part of wisdom.

Realizations such as this one are rewarding parts of the journey and confirm that for now this is my dao.