My daughter, E. loves clothes. And jewelry. And stuffed animals. And tiny things like sea shells, small rocks, and little erasers in the shape of donuts and bicycles. She also got her ears pierced recently, which means that just about everyone in her life has showered her with new earrings. She has lots of stuff and none of it is easily put away.
Being the organizer that I am, I encourage her to sort her things into drawers, boxes, and the wooden chest her grandfather made for her. Being the free spirit that she is, she ignores me completely. She loves the clutter.
Her brother (who shares her room) and I are learning to live with E.’s quirky collections. The problem is, her chaos tends to escape the boundaries of her room. I have found countless crayons on the floor of my car and pink Barbie shoes in my preaching robes. More than once I have yelled, “E! Come and get this hairband/bracelet/sock/flip flip off the coffee table!”
These days as I look outside, however, nature is yelling back at me that choas isn’t so bad. “So what if the leaves are all over the lawn?” it says. “There’s nothing wrong with a little mess now and again.”
I see the way bright orange pumpkins are surrounded by browning vines, how unraked leaves fly in the wind, the way seed pods have burst open but only half-ejected their contents, and I think maybe it’s true. Perhaps clean and tiny is over rated. There is beauty in my unkempt backyard. The last few tomatoes are a gorgeous deep red, even though they are hanging on scraggly-looking plants. Some of the sunflower heads are so heavy they have fallen over, but I love watching the gold finches pick at them in the late afternoon sunlight. I like the way the leaves are turning colour and falling in random patterns all over the neighbourhood.
E. will be glad to know that this season is teaching me something new. Messy can be beautiful.