The past couple of days I have had a feeling or a sense of just being overwhelmed by life. There have not been any major or dramatic circumstances to deal with, but all the little, tiny, everyday life things seemed to be adding up. Like the dust bunny over the front window, all the smudges on my bathroom mirror, clothes that need to go to the cleaners, watches that need new batteries, a laundry basket full of stinky towels, dirty dishes in the sink, leaves covering the yard, the checkbook. Ahh, the checkbook. That’s where my meltdown began.
I needed to make sure all those debit card receipts I had been carrying around in my wallet were actually recorded in the checkbook register. I then had one check to write (to the IRS; tomorrow is April 15). As I always do because I make lots of mistakes when it comes to math, I was using a pencil to write the debits in the register. I needed a pen to write that one check.
A pen. One little pen.
I went to the drawer in the kitchen that is directly below the counter where the phone is located. That drawer contains a couple of phone books, several note pads, and keys to the storage building out back. And pens. About 40 or 50 of them.
If we’ve written down something while we’re talking on the phone, when the conversation is over we put the cordless phone back on the base there on that counter and then drop the pen in that drawer. It’s a matter of convenience. No matter that we picked a pen up somewhere else. Over time, the number of writing utensils in that drawer multiplies. The pen population had grown so large that it was time for an intervention.
The overgrown pen colony was just too much for me to deal with in my vulnerable state of overwhelmdomness. I scooped up all but about 2 or 3 pens from that drawer and set out on a mission.
I headed to the little table by my bed. The top of that little table is loaded with books I’m currently reading, books I’ve started but haven’t finished yet, and books I haven’t started yet but want to read next. Seldom do I read a book without a pencil in my hand as I like to underline, highlight, and make notes as I read. So, again because of convenience and its close proximity to my books, that little drawer was also loaded with pens and pencils. I gathered up about 25 or 30 from that drawer.
From there I went through the plastic organizer on the small computer desk, the cup on the end table in the living room, my purse (why does any woman need 5 pens and 1 pencil in her purse?), the large tote bag I use for a briefcase, my car, my Bible, and the dining room table.
Two people, one house, 4,365 writing utensils. It’s ridiculous.
Part of why this is all so crazy is that we do have an official permanent location for writing utensils in our house. The bottom right drawer of the large wooden desk in our 3rd bedroom/office is dedicated solely for this purpose. There, separated in Ziploc bags, categorized by type and ink color, are gel pens, ball points, mechanical pencils, wooden pencils, highlighters, permanent markers, on and on. There is no random chaos in this drawer. It’s easy to find any kind of pen, pencil, or marker you might want. And might I just say what a joy it is to open that drawer and see all that color coded organization. Oooooeeeee.
Truth is, I seldom go to that drawer unless I’m looking for a very specific type of writing instrument. Usually, I just grab what I can find wherever I can find it.
And other than this recent spree, I don’t know when I have ever opened that drawer to put a pen back after using it. I usually just drop it wherever it is most convenient.
So they pile up and clutter the spaces that could be better utilized for other things until I just can’t take it anymore.
I think I treat a lot of things in my life that way. Like friends I need to email, thank you cards I need to write, birthday cards I need to send, family I need to visit. I drop them here and there thinking I’ll go back later, pick it up, clean it up, put it in its rightful place on my priority list. Then new things begin to sprout and start to crowd the limited personal space I have and I realize I can no longer keep up. I try to move forward but am distracted by all the piles strewn by my own hand all over my life, causing me to scramble around, stumble, and sometimes retreat. Oh, to think of the volumes of blessings I could have written if I had been paying attention and not been so reckless in dropping them here and there, picking them up only when it was convenient.
…Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in all the ways I command you, that it may go well with you. But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubborn inclinations of their evil hearts. They went backward and not forward. Jeremiah 7:23-24