Yes, that’s me in many respects. For example, I am very particular about where I keep my keys. This habit developed nearly 40 years ago. I’d given my roommate a ride to the airport; he was off to visit his girlfriend for the weekend. I was now on the north side of Chicago and decided to hit one of the suburban malls for some holiday shopping. Emerging package laden, I discovered my keys locked in my car. It was also snowing, and the only other set of keys to our Hyde Park apartment many miles south was now in Minnesota. Oh crap.
Back in the mall, I found a phone (this was long before the advent of cell phones) and contacted a locksmith. He arrived and got me into my car, unfortunately breaking the door’s locking mechanism in the process. I’ll spare you more of the particulars of this incident, but suffice it to say, I’ve learned to keep very good track of my keys (I have locked myself out only a few times since) and also to keep a backup set somewhere accessible.
This penchant for organization and structure extends to a lot of the “stuff” in my life: Checkbooks, passports, files, tickets, computer passwords, sunglasses, workout clothes. The daypack I use when traveling illustrates this well. I bring a plastic envelope containing documents and reservations, filed in order of chronological need: Air reservation, car rental, maps, lodging, next air reservation, etc. I keep this in the compartment of my pack reserved for a laptop, along with my laptop and a writing pad.
In another compartment of the pack are a few packing cubes, of different sizes and colors. One contains electronics: phone, noise canceling earbuds, charger, I-pad. Another holds snacks for the trip. If this is a long haul/ overseas trip, there will be an additional container with basic toiletries and a change of clothes. The third section of my pack holds a travel wallet with currency from home and for my destination, as well as passport, ID, and credit cards. Sunglasses, eyeglasses and keys clipped on a ring go here, too. Items may get shifted from one part of my pack to another, depending on the circumstances, but in general, knowing what I have with me and where it is simplifies the journey. This structure becomes particularly supportive when I am jet lagged or sleep deprived.
I realize that most of this is driven by a desire for efficiency. I don’t like spending time looking for these things, nor the anxiety that arises when something is misplaced. There is a tidiness that develops as a consequence of some of these habits, and I recognize it is the result, not the purpose. As I look at these particular habits of mine, I see that they are largely about creating the “freedom within the form”. If I can trust the baseline organization of stuff and I am able to access what I need with ease when it is required, then I am much more free to enjoy my life. I can enjoy the little things, take in beauty, and meet my day with a sense of possibility, more open to the magic.
It is another of those life paradoxes. Attending to some small details leaves me much more able to connect to and participate in the “big picture”. Or to use today’s word, some focus on the particular increases my availability to life in general.