I was recently part of a conversation in which someone characterized people as either a "chaos muppet" or an "order muppet." For example, Animal is a chaos muppet, as his fundamental orientation is toward drumming wildly; Kermit is an order muppet, as his job is to make sure that everyone is in their place in order for the show to start.
I am an order muppet.
I am in my fourth year of using a Passion Planner to structure my work (my employment and my self-work). I am a six on the enneagram. I am an ESFJ. I am a Hufflepuff. These may mean something to you, these may mean nothing to you. That's fine.
Mostly, what they have meant to me, is that structure is where I find freedom. When there are no rules, I freeze. When there are unclear expectations, I freeze. I rarely go with the flow. I just tried to think of a good example of a time when I have relinquished full logistical control to someone else and, truly, could not think of a good one—until recently. This year has been full of unexpected blessings and not-so-blessed-things. (I feel the need to acknowledge the absolute dumpster fire state of the world as part of this, but we're all here, we all know.)
Since this is the big, wide, internet, I'm not about to walk you through every moment of what's been happening, but suffice it to say that from mid-December 2017 until now, approximately nothing has gone according to plan for me or some of my dearest loved ones. There has been death, and near-death, and sickness, and surgery. And there has been new life, and new cities, and new houses. Some of our unexpectedness has been positive, but even with those changes comes grief about what had been. Throughout these months, I have handed over—or admitted I had no control over, if we're being really real—the lives and livelihoods of my dearest ones to the God we love and who loves us. Throughout these months, I have reviewed the vows my husband and I made to each other last October, trusted that he meant what he said, and trusted that we are in this together. I, most terrifyingly, placed deep trust in doctors and nurses and other medical professionals.
There was nothing I could do. I had to let go of any semblance of control, and trust everyone else. While I identify these last several months as tumultuous, they have brought deep clarity to my sense of self: I have begun to consider perhaps occasionally going with the flow on purpose.
I have begun to notice that I may have placed too rigid of structures on my own self. There is a difference between keeping my calendar together—so that my colleagues and I are on the same page about what time we're meeting—and setting rules for myself that make it harder to enjoy my life.
[I re-wrote a few versions of a sentence and stared at the cursor for a while before getting to the sentence that follows this parenthetical.]
I am going to abandon my reading list.
I know what you're thinking: who cares? Me. And that's why I'm letting it go. I love to read, and I needed a way to structure my reading after a lifetime of syllabi. I floundered for the first year after seminary, unsure how to access all the leisure reading (and learning) I wanted to do, now that I was free. So I set myself some structure for 2016—Book Riot's #ReadHarder challenge and Rachel Syme's Women's Lives Club—and I read. And last year, I did it again. And this year, I set out to do it again. Due to the aforementioned absolute mess of a Q1, I am "behind" in my progress, and—most importantly—not excited about the books I have lined up. There are categories of books that I agonized over, and yet somehow convinced myself that this was going to be good? Even limits have their limits.
It's baseball season, so we're spending our evenings watching game after game. It's awesome. I'm listening to my usual podcasts, including one about baseball, on which a writer whose book I'd been eyeing (but not buying! Because it isn't on the list!) was interviewed so well that I cried. And then ordered her book. I have read more pages in the last week than in the month before that.
I do not believe I will ever abandon my life goal to #ReadFewerWhiteDudes. Rest assured, dear reader. And I will keep posting my reading on social media as I complete books, but I will also stop reading the two books I'm stuck in the middle of because I truly DGAF about them. And will not regard this as "failure" or feel shame about it! I will order books that I hear about that I want to read! And then I will read them! Ahhhhhhhh