Have I mentioned how much I love containers?
For me, the well-used full container represents success and efficiency. An empty container represents hope for the future. I know when the right situation arises, I’ll have a place to put the parts. It is the same feeling I feel when I look at my empty pickup bed – when the need arises, I can help.
I have boxes of boxes, boxes of bags, and whenever we visit the Container Store, it takes diligent disassociation for me to avoid buying even more. The only things to stop me, really, is the knowledge if I bought everything, I’d have no way to organize and store it all.
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It’s occurred to me that if you did a close inspection of my stuff, you might not agree with my love for organization and structure. My books often seem to be randomly distributed on the shelves. My projects are piled on my desk. Even worse, and most embarrassing, my wrenches and sockets are loosely gathered in a toolbox. Anytime I need one I must dig through and separate the metric from SAE and find one that seems to be the correct size. I only do it when no one else is around since I don’t want to explain myself.
I’m not obsessive about organizing. I’m not that interested whether other people could find what they are looking for because I would just as soon do it myself and I usually find what I need quickly. Even if the untrained eye sees only a pile of papers on my desk, I almost always know which pile has the piece of paper I need. I guess I am more of a functional organizer, and if my structure makes sense only to me, that’s fine.
And yet, still, whenever I need to use a socket wrench, I am frustrated to dig through my own disorganization looking for the right one – embarrassed that it’s taken me so long to grow up. At least they were all together in one place.
Which leads me the newest edition to my collection.
Cyndi and family bought a rolling tool chest for my Father’s Day and birthday. (I’m happy to combine the two gift-giving occasions – It’s hard enough to think of one gift idea, certainly not two.) I was slow agreeing to a tool chest because, I suppose, I didn’t think I was worthy. It seemed to be too much money for someone like me who uses tools only rarely. I’m not a mechanic, and only a nominal home handyman.
I changed my mind once I started researching big tool chests in hardware stores, I was all in. I couldn’t wait to have all those drawers. I even started watching YouTube videos telling how to best organize a tool chest.) I’ll welcome any tips or photos if you’d like to help me.)
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This morning I read Ecclesiastes 3:11, which says God put eternity in our hearts (the source of our pull toward the transcendent) yet did not give us the capacity to understand it all.
I see this all the time in my own life. I’m drawn to big ideas, deep thoughts, epic views, long rides, life-changing adventures. It’s why I love looking out airplane windows and reading books about across-the-USA bike rides and dreaming of life-changing thru-hikes on two-hundred-mile trails.
I understand the limits of my intellectual capacity and, dare I say it, my own attention span. Like the verse says, God did not give me (or any of us) capacity to understand it all.
However, I’m comforted by knowing I can collect knowledge and ideas and store them in containers … in Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, notes I make in book margins, on 3×5 cards, and in journal after journal after journal. If ideas are organized and safe and retrievable, I can pull them out and use them. When the need arises, I can help.
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Cyndi is coming home today from a four-day three-night backpacking trip on the Ouachita Trail in eastern Oklahoma. It is a group hike, and weeks ago when I first signed us up, I fully expected to go, but since then my ankle turned to the worst and I had to stay home. Cyndi bravely represented the family by hiking the wilderness without me.
All that is to say, I’ve had six days at home by myself. I worked on cleaning the garage, painting one set of wooden window blinds to see if the finished product would be acceptable, and organizing my new tool chest. I’m not yet finished, but I now have hope for a better, happier, brighter, and more structured future.
“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32