The Value of a Messy Place
Jordan Peterson will say you won’t get anywhere unless you’re at least able to make your bed, ‘If you want to change the world, start with your room’, he says. After all, if you can’t even keep your personal space together, how could you possibly expect to handle the messiness and randomness of the world?
But I have some contradictory evidence to that:
I’m not here to convince you that living a disorganised life is the way to succeed. Rather, I’m here to argue that a messy environment isn’t such a big deal, and can be, in fact, an interesting and valuable experience to have; for some, even inspiring.
The assumptions one makes when overestimating the value of a clean environment are:
An organised living space is the reflection of a clear mind - while true for some, it’s definitely not a rule, and I’d argue it’s more a correlative than a causal relationship. This is certainly untrue for many scientists - if you see the working spaces of many, you’ll notice it’s not at all representative of how clear their goals/thoughts are from a scientific perspective, and not at all reflective of how established of a scientist they are. If you’re looking for a correlation though, you’ll find the opposite to be true.
A clear mind leads to a successfull life - your thoughts and feelings need not be at their clearest for you to succesfully go about your life. Understanding them is a highly dynamic process, and simply never-ending, but it’s also a beautiful one.
Even if these two assumptions were true, it’s quite a jump to say an organised living space leads to a successfull life. For the most part, that’s simply not true. You can be incredibly excited for a project, and so emersed in it that you completely forget about the external world. Only when you’re done you come to the realisation that your place is, well, a mess. Isn’t that a sign that your project was successful though?
Finding Inspiration in the world’s tendency to disorder
There’s plenty of remarkable people who, regardless of the environment they’re put in, have clear goals and produce valuable work. Jackson Pullok, Francis Bacon and Albert Einstein are only a few of many. What these people have managed to do is deal with the entropy around them without the need to diminish it, or fight it. This is quite an exceptional skill to have, since there are indeed times you just can’t escape entropy, and your life must go with it. Consider for example, being stuck in traffic; there’s simply nothing you can do to escape the waste of time and interference that will cause. However, must that affect your general wellbeing? We fight disorder everyday, but there’s no reason to be averse to it. Whether that be an ocasional messy room, a loud library, a moment of sadness, or any other imbalances life invariably brings.
Some even find a bit of mess inspiring - particularly artists. Besides being unpleasant to navigate, a mess is a sign we are doing stuff - we’re here, we’re moving things, we live with them and we use them. It’s our mark in time, and can be a good indicator of our ideas. Besides, who wants a place that’s never been touched? One analogy I can come up with is the after-party nostalgia: you think what a nuiscance will be to clean up, but the mess is what reminds you of the great time you had with your friends.
Nature is disorder. Every season has its elements of mess and beauty; right now, in autumn, leaves are piling over the pavement, the air is stingy and days are getting shorter - but for that, you get a scenery of vibrant colors, golden streets, and rosy cheeks. Ultimately, life is a never ending entropic environment, but why should laws of nature negatively affect our wellbeing, when we can allow it to shape us in a positive manner.