As I settle back in to my life in Colorado, I have embarked on a frenzy of organization. This is how I manage stress over things in my life that I can't control: by imposing as much pleasingly visible order and structure I can on the things that I can control.
I literally broke down in a fit of sobbing when I saw the huge amount of Indiana stuff I hauled in from my car to my offices at home and at work. There was truly no place to put it. But then I leaped into pitch-and-purge mode. I filled two large recycling cans at home with things like clipped magazine articles I might want to re-read someday, drafts of articles that were published long ago, folders of neatly sorted bills from 2006, 2006, 2008, minor reviews of books no longer in print. I filled an enormous recycling bin at work with correspondence files from the 1990s, dusty oversized envelopes containing all my teaching evaluations for the past twenty years, student papers from before I left for my two years away. I took heaps of clothes I will never wear again to Goodwill, as well as paperback copies of the plays of Euripides and Sophocles that I got for free at the teachers' conventions my mother attended in Atlantic City in the 1970s.
I made doctor appointments, dental appointments, vet appointments; I got both cars emissions-tested and registered; I dropped off a shoe to be repaired (the kind of thing you can NOT do in Greencastle, Indiana!); I deleted hundreds of accumulated emails; I made the world's most complete and massive to-do list for work, home, and life.
And I felt SO much better about everything. How I love having everything finally under control!
But then I went out for a beautiful evening walk yesterday with my friend Rowan. The day was hot, but by 7:30 p.m., the heat was bearable as the sun slipped down the sky toward the mountains. And then, as we walked, all of a sudden we stumbled upon a scene of complete chaos and commotion. A herd of cows grazing on the field across from the subdivision where we were walking had somehow gotten loose, and some forty very large cows and their somewhat large calves were wandering through the Shanahan Ridge neighborhood, mooing loudly as the poor rancher tried to herd them back home again. Neighbors all came out with cameras to document this moment when the unexpected broke through the usual order of things. Here are a few of Rowan's I-phone pictures that she sent me this morning:
But the walk was a good reminder that much as we (well, I!) may love and crave order, there can be a deliciousness in disorder, too, temporary breaches in the structured, predictable, controlled framework of our lives.
MOOOOOOO! MOOOOOOOO! MOOOOOOOOO!