A Beautiful Mishmash

Saturday, January 2, 2021


When I grow bored with being organized and efficient, I sometimes settle cheerfully into the coolness and poise of disorganization. I accept my disorders and mishmashes as no worse than the way leaves lie across lawns in graceful confusion in the autumn. I compare myself to clouds in the sky as they scatter and shift and reshuffle themselves in their beautifully messy way. Being neat is a nice way to live, but here’s a cheer, too, for occasional clutter and even some harmless chaos. I see little orderliness on the beaches we walk, with their picturesque swirls of sand and driftwood and stones, and sometimes I let my life be like that, let the waves of life wash in and shape my minutes every which way. 

This morning, on our spry three-mile hike through the Denison Peqoutsepos Preserve, I felt lucky to be a sometimes disarrayed old fellow, because the scenes we passed through in the wintry forest seemed totally jumbled, and perfectly so. There was chaos everywhere – downed trees, messes of sticks and vines, a shamble of puddles and overflowing streams and stripped-bare trees – but it was all perfect, all just nature as it should be in January. As we walked amid all this good-looking bedlam, I felt fortunate that my life, now and then, looks to me like a mess. If nature’s natural beauty sometimes seems messy to us humans, then perhaps my occasional muddleness is just another way that life lets us know how secretive it can be, sometimes hiding its loveliness inside sloppiness. When I look at these photos, I first see disorder, but then, slowly, I recognize the simple elegance of mixture and multiplicity. I need to recognize – and accept – this kind of messy stylishness in myself sometimes, too.


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