The Limits of Organization

I am, by most accounts, organized. I blame this pathology on a messy childhood, but that’s mostly for convenience. I don’t have any particular desire to sort out why I’m that way, though I’m willing to sort everything else out.

Who knew?

People often equate organization with neatness or cleanliness and while there are semantic similarities, they are not the same. A person can be quite clean and disorganized. The allusion of cleanliness from organization is understandable, but backward; organization, whether in the home or at work or in a place of business, belies the necessity of cleanliness, because there is no need to clean in order to find the remote, car keys, or phone. Secondly, and most importantly, organization precludes the need to clean more than is absolutely necessary.

It distinguishes thrift versus sloth. I think that’s right?

Anyway, organization is the demonstrative display that says you know what you’re doing, whether you do or you don’t. It may, of course, simply mean that you are expert at finding a place for all things whether that thing needs a place at all that makes sense to the uninitiated. Some of this,the ability to find a place for all things is, naturally, assumed due to a deficit of stuff, or that you are into the philosophy of lean or minimalism or some such belief.

Recently, my wife and I tuned in to watch Marie Kondo help those with way too much stuff become more organized using her KonMari technique. As someone who is preternaturally inclined to organizational fastidiousness-just ask the people I used to work with-I allowed myself a moment of self-satisfaction that I am not buried by way too much stuff stuffed into every nook and cranny of the house, apartment, or workspace.

It didn’t last.


While I do not have a house packed with the detritus of many years, I do have a house packed with memories fastidiously organized. And to be fair to myself, I do engage in yearly assaults on closets and drawers and bookshelves, thereby relieving myself of ownership of clothing, books, and household items I no longer have any need for.

Yet there are those items, cherished items, that at some point will be discarded.

I wonder about that as I wander throughout my fastidiously organized house. Will my prized possessions become tired and old to everyone but me? Are they that now though that is not spoken out loud in my presence? Is there even any need that they be of any importance once my need for them is gone, say when I’m gone?


Am I merely a collector of dated past-their-prime artifacts of no particular value? Will my lifetime of accumulation be poo-pooed by some overweening “expert” as hopelessly out of fashion? Will my care bears, pet rocks, and beanie babies but nothing more than destined for the landfill once I’m wrested from this mortal coil?

Too much?

It’s possible.

On the upside, and this is where my preternaturally inclination to organizational fastidiousness comes in to play. When the time comes for my children to labor through the contents of my long and vigorous life-that’s assuming I’m not run over by a self-driving truck or am the victim of foul play or that my wife throws it all out upon my demise-that it will all be neatly organized for disposal or whatever snarky comments they’ll have once I off surfing the universe.

Always look on the bright side.

©2019 David William Pearce

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