Obsessive-compulsive disorder, anally retentive, neat freak – the terms are out there.
I’ve always been a little obsessive about order. When in stores, often red and large, my husband comes up to me and whispers “You’re doing it again”, and I realise I’m organising the bins of DVDs, making sure they are all up the right way, putting the ones that go together, well, together. If I am eating out and they bring cutlery, I will make sure they are straight and perfectly lined up, along with the salt and pepper and I’ll put things in order of colour, length, size – aahhh that’s better!
I actually feel agitated when I see disorder but can’t do anything about it.
At the library, I like to tidy, I like lining things up, straightening, and I get a real sense of calm when I have tidied and made things ‘right’. My brain relaxes. Libraries are perfect places to work if you have the ordered (compulsive) gene and I’m not the only one drawn to the order of a library shelf. So when a book arrived as a reserve for me, I did wonder about it, not sure I’d put it on hold, but it really appealed to me. I then found out a fellow librarian had put the book on hold for me, knowing I would love it. And I do.
The Art of the Clean Up by Ursus Wehrli is a gem of a book. Well, it spoke to me. A book that on one page has an innocent bowl of alphabet soup photographed, then on the facing page has the soup sorted, so that the letters are lined up a-z and the carrot chunks are in a nice line underneath, perfectly spaced, you understand. On another page, the left page has a car park full of cars, on the facing page, the cars have all been parked in colour matching chunks. The photographs are lush and ordered and are funny and quirky or weird and disturbing, depending on the way your mind works – I did a little survey among my workmates to see their reactions.
There are heaps of books out there to help you organise your life if you feel it is out of control. There are people who will come into your house and sort it all out for you, I have wondered if this is my dream job.
But I do wonder if it is healthy to fight your natural inclinations. I don’t fight my need for order, don’t get embarrassed by it or feel I have to curb it and I think if you are a naturally messy person, just go with it. I guess as long as the health department doesn’t need to be informed, and it makes you happy, all is well.
Are you a lover of order or chaos? What makes your brain go aahhh?