As an elementary school kid I was excessively concerned with organization, neatness, and cleanliness. My life had routine and structure, and I thought everyone else’s should as well. My parents, who are both mildly obsessive compulsive, never objected to my infatuation with organization and order– they were most likely delighted. After picking up my school supplies before the start of my first grade year, I asked my dad to come help me organize them. And as we rearranged my crayons, markers, and colored pencils in “rainbow order” and successfully labeled each and every item neatly (with a label-maker, of course) the thought that I was probably the only first-grader wishing that brown fit more comfortably into the rainbow never crossed my mind.
The fact that my habits differed from others my age became evident as I observed classmates picking their nose as they ate lunch, wearing mismatched socks, and putting their markers back into the box in whatever order they happened to fall. My third grade year, I made an unlikely friend. Her name was Jessi, and she didn’t part her hair or give a damn about rainbow order, but somehow we connected. Jessi and I became best friends, and she was patient and willing when I asked her to please wash her feet before she got into my bed.
One day, Jessi spilled brown paint on my favorite doll. She immediately began apologizing, terrified of my reaction. I wiped off what paint I could, and told her “it would just make a memory,” as I looked at the stain. Over the years, Jessi helped me let go of the uptight kid I once was. She showed me that sometimes playing in the rain is worth a few mud splatters, and that even if the purple crayon is before the blue, you’ll still be able to find it. Now, I still keep my clothes in rainbow order, but they can also be found on the floor of my bedroom from time to time. I still carry anti-bacterial hand gel with me, but sometimes I forget to use it.
So, I believe in loosening up. I believe in spontaneity. I believe in letting your routine become experiencing something new each day.
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