Building Bigger Barns

I've said before that I worship my intellect, but on a more prosaic level, what I really worship is Order -- that elusive, moving target that's always just out of reach.  I love to make lists and plans; sometimes, I even carry them out.  But I'm never satisfied, of course, because that's the thing about idolatry: whatever virtue you put on a pedestal will always be unattainable in the worst way.  For me, it means I feel perpetually out of control.

One of the best and worst things about being a teacher is the cyclical nature of the school year.  You begin revved with optimism and ambition.  You finish defeated and exhausted.  You recuperate over the summer and try again.  That's the basic recipe, give or take a breakdown or Hallmark moment or two.

So when the new year arrives and I realize I haven't done any of the "long term" projects I promised to work on over the summer -- especially those dealing with organization -- I start to panic.  As the first semester gets into gear, my panic increases.  I can't find my stuff!  I have new stuff but the old stuff's in the way!  There's too much stuff everywhere I look!  And besides building bigger barns, I can't think of any solutions!

So last week, I had the first freak-out of the school year -- composed mainly of repeated paraphrases of the exclamatory statements above.  Poor Rob listened gallantly and then asked what he could do to help.  Slowly, we began making a dent in the many projects I didn't get to this summer.  And even though we've only done a little, it feels good just to look at the progress.  Like the area beneath our basement stairs, formerly a treacherous tangle of shipping materials and boxes and gift wrapping:

Basement Boxes

I didn't take a "before" photo, because I knew I would never share it with anyone.  I was embarrassed enough every year when my priest would come to bless the house -- no one else was really allowed down there.  Suffice it to say that the volume is down by about 1/3 (boxes I decided I'd never use again, even if I do ever get around to listing all my unneeded goods on eBay) and what's left is better organized and protected from the dust that creeps into every nook and cranny of the basement.

Why is it that it's so easy to lecture my students about doing their work a little at a time -- but so hard to follow my own advice in my own life?  Silly teacher.