Ah Ahh Moments

by Tom Swift

On Saturday, I tidied my medicine cabinet. Here I don’t mean just that I tidied a shelf of my medicine cabinet. Or just that I plucked out and tossed from my medicine cabinet tubes of ointments last used before President Obama left office. Or that I discarded from my medicine cabinet bottles of medications that expired not a year ago but rather two years ago. (Even if did do such things.) No. In fact, I tidied the. Entire. Medicine. Cabinet. I know: big things going on over here.

On a serious note, I have experienced a minute moment of joy each time I have opened my medicine cabinet since I tidied my medicine cabinet.

Subconsciously, the moment I open my medicine cabinet I expect to see the old tubes and expired bottles, to reach for the hair product on the bottom shelf when it’s proper place is clearly on a middle shelf. Instead, ahhhh.

Look how nice and orderly. The after-shave stands in attention. The cologne looks happy.

I think this is a highly underrated experience in life.

I mean, no one I know wants “He kept a tidy house” written on his tombstone. Yet life is good when you experience many little joys through the day. Anyone can be happy in Tuscany. When even small, confined areas of your home please you, you are going to manufacture a lot of happy.

The goal here is clear: to get your physical things in order so that your emotional energy is free to flow in the directions you want it to go.

I don’t clean my fridge as often as they say you should. But whenever I do, it’s so nice to open it and see all the yogurt and greens and coffee concentrate and Pyrex containers of leftovers sitting in their right place. I mean how many times do you open the fridge each day? Probably not as many times as I do. But still!

I write better when the bed is made.

I like the idea that everything you own has its place.

I hate when I don’t know where to find something.

It seems like a waste when I am regularly deciding anew where to put something.

Of course, this can go go far. Sometimes the bed is not made and I still can — still need to be able to — write.

The goal is not perfection. Or a constant undertaking of order. I am just talking about awareness with the hope of finding ways to spend less time on things that get in my way so that I have more freedom to work on those things I do want to be written on the tombstone. (Hopefully none too soon.)

I mean, if you have a whole ton of shit in storage … why?

I am not a minimalist. But I would sooner go in that direction than be a maximalist. Spending money on things I don’t use seems like the ultimate lose-lose.

While I have fewer material possessions than a lot of people I know, I still feel like I carry and store more than I need, which can only weigh me down, physically and psychically.

I am writing about this because when I write about something the experience crystalizes for me. I have composed a list of all of the other areas of my home in which I want to tidy. My current goal is to take up one area each week. I will do this until the list is done. The only rule is I can’t go back to an area already tidied until I complete the entire list. So I can’t keep tidying the medicine cabinet, say, or the drawers in the kitchen. (The hope is that I tidy in a way so that I am more of or less done — that I find a home for each thing and be done with it. So that medicine cabinet doesn’t need regular tidying.)

I have long known about myself that I am a sprinter, not a marathoner. In other words, I like projects I can complete in a single dash, less so those that take days, weeks, months. I am working on my endurance. Personal challenges like this one help. We’ll see if I can complete this mid-distance run.