Last night I played Tetris with all of my worldly possessions. I sorted, discarded, organized and packed for hours in an effort to fit everything I think I’ll need on the road for the documentary trip into a manageable collection. I’m not hitting the road yet -at least not to start the interviewing – but I am making my way up to a friend’s farm to work for the winter and will get on the road from there come spring. So, unfortunately, the packing has to come now.
I used to love packing. In fact I loved it so much that as a kid I would pack my bags all the time, pretending I was going somewhere. And sometimes I would leave, just to cause a dramatic scene. I would go all the way to the local park and sit in the tree… until it got dark or I got hungry. But still, I liked the thrill of packing and not knowing where I would end up. I also used to love organizing my stuff. I would rearrange my room at least every six months. I would make lists while packing for a real trip. I was a true daughter after my mother’s heart – she is one organized woman…borderline OCD.
But I kind of lost all of that once I got older and actually started traveling. I morphed into the opposite of organized and became a free spirited, i.e. messy, person. In my work life I was still on top of things, but in my personal life, I threw all organization out the window. Planning ahead, itineraries and packing were never priorities while going anywhere. Being and doing were my only priorities – and they still are important spiritual philosophies of mine. But I was a mess most of the time.
One benefit was that I never had too much stuff. Traveling so much taught (and forced me) to live lighter; simpler. Everything had to fit in one backpack…maybe one I could barely walk with as it exploded with stuff from every crevice, but it was one moderately sized space where I could fit all my posessions, and that felt good. I still continue to try and live my life this way. As most people do, I somehow acquire things after lingering in one place for a while. But it seems every year or every time I am on the move again, I get the chance to sort and slim down my “stuff”. Annie Leonard of “The Story of Stuff” would be proud.
Yet in all of this coming and going, sorting and discarding, there’s still been no organizing. At the turn of this new year, I’ve decided to change that. Maybe my old childhood ways have caught up with me again or maybe I’ve learned that disorganization creates twice as much work. Or maybe I’ve finally chiseled my “stuff” down to a manageable enough collection that organization seems less daunting. Whatever it is, I’ve made the theme of the first weeks of 2012 to Organize. Not like “organize” for food justice, but “organize” my life so that I can be a better advocate for food justice, so I can be a better farmer down the road and so that this year, I can launch and implement a successful documentary project on the road.
It may seem trivial, but I believe that our “stuff”, whether it be too much, too messy or too negative, can weigh us down, consume us or distract us from really living. Organization results in better work. The most successful farms I’ve seen are extremely organized, with streamlined processes. Organization gives some people peace of mind. Peace within allows peace to radiate without.
Maybe that’s why I was so at peace as a kid, I loved playing Tetris with my “stuff”. I think 2012 will be the year to get that peace back.