It is no secret that for most of my life, I have had the feeling that a tornado was spinning inside me. For a long time, my mind ran frantic (and sometimes still does) in a million directions, unable to slow down, stop worrying, and just be, leading to a list of pretty typical maladies from such a state, including but not limited to, sleep disturbances and heart palpitations*.
While my insides were a mess and a half, it was very important for me to keep my outsides as neat and orderly as possible, almost (well, more like “sometimes”) to the point of obsessiveness. Clothes were never left on the floor. The bed was always made – and I admit, there were times when the bed was made while someone else was still in it. There were never dirty dishes in the sink and the remote control was always in the same spot on the coffee table.
And then, slowly, over the past year, things inside started to calm down. The tornado became a tropical storm, which became a thunder-storm, which has calmed down to a light rain for most of the time. It’s always there lurking, but it’s not that often that it spins out of control.
I realized recently that as my insides have started to become a little more orderly, my outsides have started to become a little more chaotic. Right now, I’m looking around the room where I’m typing these very words, and there are blankets and pillows askew on the couch, bags and shoes on the floor at my feet, papers strewn about the desk that have been here for several days (okay, weeks) and will probably be here for a couple more. As recently as 18 months ago, this would never have happened. I’ve also noticed that in the times that the rain starts to become a storm, I take to cleaning and purging and organizing as if my life depends on it. It seems like a clear link to me – chaos on the inside leads to order on the outside. Chaos on the outside leads to order on the inside. Given this almost certain connection, I really am thankful for a little messiness in my life.
*As an aside, it was a trip to the doctor and subsequent chest x-ray to determine that these heart palpitations were totally benign that I also learned that I have a systolic heart murmur. My mom and brother have the same condition, which is asymptomatic and will likely never be a problem in my life. But you can imagine how a melancholy 17-year-old with a frantic mind and heart palpitations heard this news: “Great. I have a permanently broken heart.”