Have you ever seen (or perhaps you have been) a child fully absorbed in play, while sitting in the midst of a mess of toys and games and bits and pieces strewn all around it?
My parents have memories of me being that little child / toddler, and although I love to be neat and tidy nowadays I can relate to that child especially when I am absorbed in some kind of messy craft project. There are photographs from my childhood that show me sitting perfectly contentedly on the floor examining some little toy, object, or the bristles of an old fashioned style broom that my grandmother had that I had pulled apart, completely engrossed in my ‘activity’ while all around me is chaos. In one photograph of me as a toddler, I am wearing a lovely little summer dress and have found my way into a toy cupboard, have crawled into it, am chewing on my chosen toy, but in order to get to that happy state I had pulled out absolutely *everything* else and left toys all around outside the cupboard on the ground. But I am happy and content and have found my ‘sweet spot’ or ‘happy place’ in toddler life! 🙂
As we grow older, for many of us at least, we begin to equate mess with stress. Growing up, the phrase ‘tidy your room’ did give me a sense of anxiety and stress, because as good as I was at getting messy, I needed to put in a lot more effort to get things tidied up.
Now as an adult, with my own place, I like things to be neat and tidy, and aesthetically pleasing, and ‘just so’, and I do get a bit stressed I admit, because it is a daily effort to maintain especially when living alone. How can we have that neat and tidy space around us without having to put in the work of doing the dishes, tidying up, doing all the chores, and maintaining everything – and when you’re on your own it can be hard to keep up. I’ve written several posts about decluttering and tidying so if you’re using some of the extra time you might have in this pandemic year / lockdown depending on where you live, to get your home sorted, then there is plenty of advice to be found in my blog.
At the moment, I am at home in my parents’ house, not wanting to spend winter and Christmas alone as we face a second lockdown in many parts of the UK. Not everything is just as I would like it in my room and I’d love to do a bit of a ‘declutter’ but not everything here is actually mine, so I can’t just do whatever I want with this space. This got me thinking of some things I have said in my blogs in the past, including ‘enjoy your mess, enjoy your tidy’ and the importance of finding balance in whatever season of life, and of our environment that we are in.
Perhaps reading the title of this blog post, certain ideas or thoughts were triggered in your mind. What did or what does the phrase: ‘The mess you are in’ signify for you? Is it an actual physical mess of your surroundings, is it an emotional or psychological mess, is it the mess of circumstances, of failing health, of uncertainty, of worry, anxiety, fear, broken relationships, grief, death, or a shaken world, of poor job prospects, of financial difficulties, of unruly children, of a struggling marriage, or drifting friendships, of frustrations, pent up emotions, trauma, of stress of planning for Christmas with pandemic restrictions, of political unrest, of loneliness, of struggles with singleness, of the comparison trap, of friends moving on, of feeling ‘stuck’?
Life can be pretty messy sometimes, that’s for sure. But I invite you to imagine the image of the child sitting in his or her messy surroundings, perhaps with their eyes focussed on some little trinket or toy, completely absorbed and mesmerised in the joy of that moment of discovery and of play.
You will notice that in parenthesis in this title I encapsulated the word ‘Now’. What is the mess you are in now? Right now? It is big, it is bigger than you feel like you can handle, or perhaps it is simply frustrating and annoying. Do you know, that while as an adult you are not called to forget about your responsibilities and obligations, you still have the freedom to take a break from them, even if for a moment, and find rest?
You may not be able to deal with, tidy up, pray through or resolve the whole of the mess you are in right now in a moment, in a day or even a year. Broken things take time to repair, especially when they are precious. But in the midst of the mess and the chaos, you can stop. You can look with wonder and be absorbed in something really special – right NOW.
What will it be for you today? What chance will you give yourself to pause, to sit still even in the mess, and to dream, to imagine, to play, to wonder at? What life will you find in your moment right now? xx