Orderliness (June 17)


“Sure there is music even in the beauty, and the silent note which Cupid strikes, far sweeter than the sound of an instrument. For there is a music wherever there is a harmony, order, or proportion; and thus far we may maintain the music of the spheres” (Sir Thomas Browne).

WHO WOULD DISAGREE THAT THERE IS A “MUSIC” MADE BY THINGS LIKE HARMONY, ORDER, OR PROPORTION? We don’t have to be neurotically obsessed with neatness to appreciate the beauty — and even the value — of balanced efficiency and harmonious arrangement in the world around us. Freedom and spontaneity are wonderful things, but none of us would want to live in a world where total confusion and unpredictability were the norm. The marvelous spontaneity we so deeply enjoy in nature is supported and made possible by a larger pattern of orderliness. So most of us are glad to live in a cosmos (from the Greek kosmos, which meant “order”) rather than a chaos (from the Greek khaos, which meant “emptiness”).

Our habitations. Deep down, wouldn’t most of us rather live and work and play in spaces that are made more comfortable by a reasonable amount of order? Surely we would, and the work that’s required to maintain a little orderliness in our habitations is worthy work.

Our lifestyles. Just as unmaintained spaces become chaotic and uninviting, so do our lifestyles when we default on our “housekeeping” chores. It doesn’t take long for the chaos to creep in. So what about your manner of life? Is it overdue for some serious reordering?

Our characters. Since other people see our lifestyles, we may try to keep them somewhat orderly. But our characters, like our back yards, can’t be seen so easily, and there, we may not be as careful. But in truth, our “back yard” speaks volumes about who we really are, and nothing is sadder than a run-down character, rank with “weeds.”

Nowadays, we ought to make up our minds that we’re simply not going to let words like “orderliness” have a negative connotation to us. Orderliness doesn’t do away with spontaneity; it’s the very thing that makes freedom such a delightful possibility. As in nature, so it is in our own lives: order is what gives us a playground on which to play.

“Some people regard discipline as a chore. For me, it is a kind of order that sets me free to fly” (Julie Andrews).

Gary Henry – WordPoints.com

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