“Where is my checkbook? What happened to that phone number I copied last week? What happened to my life insurance policy that I took out of the safe-deposit box?”
You cannot believe all the aggravation that I have faced because my desk is in a continuous state of disorder. Although I am not a fan of personifying inanimate objects, I sometimes daydream that my desk is a hungry beast eagerly awaiting important documents to swallow. Bills, receipts, government documents, letters from friends and every other imaginable piece of needed documentation vanish from sight into my wooden “black hole” of confusion.
My wife gets angry about my disposition toward chaos. My son alternates between laughter and frustration. The latter is the case when the UFO (unlucky friendly object) had his name on it. I have wasted so many hundreds of hours looking for things thrown on my desk that even at minimum wage; I would not be so desperate to get this article published.
Why do I let it happen? I am not a lazy slob. I put intensive effort into projects. A sequenced, orderly day always pleases me with a sense of accomplishment. I am not a devotee of Heisenberg’s “Uncertainty Principle,” eager to prove that I am unable to put an item in exact place-so why bother? Provoking my wife’s wrath does not fill me with sadistic joy.
For a time, I wondered if the messy desk was the result of “nature or nurture.” Searching my family tree has not revealed any evidence of congenital grunge. My family raised me in a neat, orderly house. Could I be suffering from Multiple Personality Disorder and one of my many faces is a slovenly renegade? It was clear that I needed to seek professional help. But from whom should I seek the cure?
A behavioral psychologist could set up a schedule of negative outcomes. Possibly he could arrange to have me shocked when I mess up the desk. What if I grew to like the shocks? Might a regimen of therapeutic drugs place my house in order? I would probably put the prescription on my desk. Was there any hope?
I decided to seek solitude to search my soul for a solution. Since no one would approach my desk, I decided to stay seated and allow my mind’s eye to scan my memories. After a few hours it came to me. A messy desk was my link to longevity and possible immortality. (Maybe a Freudian therapist would help?) For many years I had taught an ethics course that engaged many speakers. Several of the speakers’ presentations dealt with end of life issues. Almost without exception, when people realized they were confronting a terminal condition; one of the first actions they undertook was to clean their desks-“get their affairs in order.”
My mind had equated a clean desk with preparation for end of life activities. As long as my desk remained messy, I was safe. I can sense what you’re thinking. “This guy is nuts!” However, my desk is still messy and I am still here.