Pencils, People, And Particulars

My desk is much like my life. It’s sufficiently stable, present and purposeful, but damn it gets messy.

Not one who operates comfortably from a place of comfort, I rarely bother spending a lot of time establishing my environment. Yes, I appreciate a well-cushioned chair, but writing has always been more important to me than the place I am writing from. Dining room tables, coffee shops, park benches or libraries will suffice.

I can plop my notes and scribbler on any uneven surface, clear space for my laptop, and go about doing what has to be done. I make do, and then I do something else.

Accordingly, the stacks of papers across the desk become as scattered as my thoughts.

Of course, everything in each pile has value: forms that needs to be filled out, receipts, half a stanza and the first few breaths of what could be a monumental poem, yellowing newspaper clippings, scraps of information, trivia, facts, and all that kind of rubbish that made sense at the time you scribbled it out while picking up milk at the grocery mart, waited in line for coffee at Starbucks, or as I drove to and from here and everywhere.

Each item has a purpose, it all belongs somewhere, but how do I find it when I need it?

I am always attempting organization (on my desk and in my life), I’ve long realized I need a better system (or one at all) where everything I need has a spot. I know, from experience, that when things fall out of place, I begin running into problems

Thing is, I have (too many times) convinced myself I can operate in this state of chaos and confusion. Generally, and it only takes a little bit of shuffling, I can usually find what I’m looking for. I even count on my somewhat detail-oriented mind and memory to guide my way and I’m successful, most of the time. I can, often as not, go back through the stuff layered day by day, and most times, find what I’m looking for.

Or is this an illusion of delusional proportions?

I might be. My thinking is so much like my desk. The information I want, particulars
I need, should be top of mind and not cluttered up with distant memories of foreign sunsets, random lyrics, faces I used to recognize, and the mental to-do lists that did not get done.

It’s much like if you are writing a letter to a certain someone, and you need that particular pencil (the one with the slightly softer dark grey graphite that just happens to glide ever-so-smoothly across that specific stationery), you shouldn’t have to dig through a several drawers, or bags, or boxes, to find it. Nor should you have to search for the damn sharpener.

It should be easy, and it would be easy, if you had put it back where it was supposed to go and if you actually had the space set aside to put it back into.

And. You. Should.

Shouldn’t you?

So, this year — as part of a continuum of never-ending alterations to the way I work (and live) — I am expanding my thinking. I’m finding the spots, or the spaces, where things belong. Everything should have a place: pencils, people, and particulars. I’ll even go out on a limb and say that with a little planning, effort and (dare I say) organization, my problems can be resolved or reduced.

Fully realizing that I needed more space (and not just a bigger desktop), and wholly admitting that I can almost be a hoarder of things both insignificant and inspiring, I purchased a couple of drawer units. The idea is to compartmentalize what I do, and how I live.

The exercise is, and will, take time (you don’t allow things to get this out of hand overnight) but I’ve actually got file folders in file stands, in a file drawer. It is efficient. There’s a drawer for journals, there is a drawer for tape, glue, and a stapler. There is a drawer for nice stationery and note cards. There’s even a drawer for pencils; actually there are two drawers (but we needn’t dwell on that distinct obsessive interest/sickness).

I’ve even got a drawer dedicated to anything else that has no real place to go; oh wait, doesn’t everybody have one of those?

Everything has a place.

Now, there is actually desktop space to lay out what I need, to open a file or read a book. I can even leave my coffee cup in a spot without fear of spilling.

I’m not going to call myself efficient (not yet), but I can say I am more orderly. I’m not perfect. I’m trying.

My desk now allows me room to do what I need to do, and my life may surely benefit from this example. I still carry around too much stuff, and don’t know where to put particulars, and some people. Slowly I’ll find the spaces.

© 2019 j.g. lewis

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