Cleaning brings out the worst in me. Do you see this desk? Isn’t it about enough to drive you crazy? If you don’t see it – look harder, maybe it’ll pop out at you like it does to me. Well if you haven’t figured out what is so offensive about this desk, here is the letter I composed to Daniel the other day while I was dusting pictured desk.
Dear Mr. Miller,
You may (or may not) have noticed that the two Lindt 85% cacao bars that have been sitting on your desk since 2006 are no longer present. I have delivered them to household chef with instructions to put daily allotments into your lunches until they are GONE. If you wish to eat them in their entirety, the chef has been instructed to let that occur. However, if they reappear on your desk, I will dispose of them without consulting you.
Ok, ok – so I had to chuckle at the ridiculousness of my letter (and at some of Daniel’s as well – yes, these candy bars are at least 5 years old), and my first instinct was to run to the computer, type up my letter and post it on fb. I thought a few people might get a good laugh. Daniel may or may not laugh, but he would most likely be good-natured about it and admit that 5 years is a long time. But instead I kept cleaning and pondered these 2 candy bars and my oversized reaction to them.
The bars are quite small, sit unobtrusively underneath Daniel’s binoculars, are usually neatly stacked, don’t tempt me because they are dark chocolate; so why do they drive me bananas when I dust? Maybe I’m jealous of Daniel’s self control. Who else do I know that could leave 2 tempting snacks on his desk for 5 years? (Actually, my Dad might be able to – but that’s beside the point.) Definitely!!! not me! I’d be happy if they lasted 5 days. Or maybe I’m a little hurt because the bars were a gift to Daniel from me and don’t appear to be appreciated. Maybe I’m upset because a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away before kids, lawn work and house repairs – and around the time those candy bars were gifted, I recall Daniel telling me that he would clean his office. That hasn’t happened even though I thoroughly understand the reasons why.
So I continued to stew while I vacuumed the office; and as I opened the door leading to the rest of the basement, the view was heart-stopping. My desk/scrap booking/catch-all project center of the house was the vision that made me want to sit and weep. Here I was getting upset over 2 measly candy bars when not more than 15ft away is the hurricane of a mess that I am responsible for. Of course I have my own reasons why this mess is so… immense – some of which I think are somewhat legit (small rambunctious boy), others which most likely are not. But the mess really doesn’t matter (other than the fact that it needs serious help!), I contemplated my attitude toward the 2 candy bars while I sit in my own pile of clutter. Thankfully I could see the overwhelming irony of it, took a minute to reposition my thinker, and went about my day without another thought of the candy bars (and was later motivated to find my desk’s surface so I could save face by posting this picture).
Too many times we’re quick to smugly point out the ramifications of the “messes” other people create – from not disciplining one’s children to overspending to overeating. We all have pet peeves that irritate us about other people, and we’re quick to think – “So glad I don’t have that problem” when we never stop and think “What is my problem?”. Maybe the problem is casting our expectations on someone else… expecting that someone else would eat his candy bar within 5 yrs—like I would. Expecting that someone would discipline, spend money, drive, work, talk, express love, etc, etc like I do. Many times we pat ourselves on the back and feel sorry for the messy person because her life would be so much better if she would just do it our way.
Daniel and I used to watch Dr. Phil on a somewhat religious basis (pre-kid era). After months of watching, we figured out that we enjoyed the hour’s worth of entertainment because we came away thinking “Man, so glad my life isn’t that screwed up,” and we felt better about ourselves. These thoughts obviously didn’t hurt any of the good doctor’s guests; however when you have those thoughts about the people you interact with (even if you don’t actually say it), you exude that attitude from within. Believe me, I’ve felt it from others – just like you have too. It’s not endearing or attractive.
Instead of getting hung up on someone else’s mess, let’s start making life a little easier on each other and possibly expect less from others, and more from ourselves – more awareness of our own messes, more compassion, more patience, more grace. Maybe we will see that the people we consider “messy” have more to offer us than we ever thought possible.