I was folding sheets this morning. When I was young, my mom taught me to fold fitted sheets – nesting the corners together, smoothing the fabric flat into a rectangle with one rounded corner, before folding it small enough to fit in the linen closet. As I have gotten older, the sheet folding process has gotten more exact – I fold the top sheet so that I can wrap it around the fitted sheet & pillowcases making a handy little bundle that fits exactly on my shelf. It’s a little ridiculous, frankly. No one sees my linen closet. I could wrap the whole thing in a rumpled bundle and no one would know or care. It got me thinking about why I do it – and any number of other things that I do in such exacting ways.
The honest truth is that I like order. It doesn’t have to be exact, but I like things to have their place and look purposeful. The first time I can remember really caring about this was in college. I would come home from classes, ready to study, and find myself distracted by the unmade bed and the clutter on the floor. I couldn’t get down to business until my side of the room was picked up. Funnily, it didn’t matter how the other side of the room looked – I just needed my realm of influence ordered.
Are you surprised to discover that I always make my bed, every morning? Didn’t think so! Even on vacation, even camping – straightening the bed happens every morning. In fact, my bedroom is my number one priority when it comes to picking up and putting things away. And my kitchen is my last priority. I think this is because my bedroom is a little retreat and I want it to always feel comfortable to me. Plus, my bedroom stays picked up whereas the kitchen almost always falls immediately back into disorder as soon as I step away. All effort there feels wasted. Note the important word: FEELS
I care for the things around me because of how it makes me feel. I like looking at the neat bundle of sheets on my shelf. I like the way the fabric is all smooth when I unfold them to make my bed. I like opening my spice drawer and seeing all the matching labels or knowing which drawer holds tupperware and only tupperware. In a world where I sometimes imagine that anything could happen, creating order gives me the illusion of control. On the upside, order means I have more brain available for the unordered parts of my life.