I live in a perfect world. I live in a world that looks like a Jacque Fresco fantasy. Everything around me is just as it should be. My house is spacious, sleek, and modern with a touch of rustic charm. Photos of my rooms fill home decor boards across the entirety of Pinterest. My desk is never cluttered, my closet holds just the right amount of clothes, there’s not a single wire visible anywhere, the furniture is feng shui and everything is in the most optimal place. It’s a beautiful world where creativity and productivity flow like champaign over a Swedish model’s nipples. I live in a perfect world…and it’s all in my head.
Don’t you ever wonder where the toothbrushes and mouthwash are in those perfect pictures of bathroom fixtures? Don’t you ever wonder why their dressers aren’t topped with dust, and bills and pockets loads of coins; why their bedsheets never pop off of the mattress corners? There is no their there. Nobody lives in those idyllic decors. Nobody gets anything done on a desk that isn’t spattered with paperclips, pencils & post-its. There’s not such thing as complete organization. Steve Jobs is dead. Maybe he lives there now, but the rest of us are stuck here in the vortex of consumerism where we buy things to put other things in and we buy things to help us get rid of things that we don’t want and we buy books to tell us how to use things that we don’t have. As George Carlin said “That’s all your house is, a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get more stuff!”
But still, I indulge in the fantasy. I’m obsessed with organization, which isn’t to say that I’m good at it. It just means I dream of a life where things make everything else easier. I imagine that if I can figure out organization then I’ll be free. It means that I’m willing to buy and buy, because I think I can purchase my way to utopia. You see, I’m an app junkie. I’ve it got bad. I cruise the productivity section of the App Store every Thursday looking for fresh and sexy apps; hoping that there will be something new to fulfill my needs; something just a little bit better than the last one.
I’ve spent days, weeks, sometimes even months with a new app, living in cohabitational bliss. I learn everything about them; how to tweak them just the right way and make squeal. How to make them reveal all of their little secrets. Every chance I get I’m doing something to them. A quickie in the restaurant bathroom just before desert or in the front seat of the car in a Target parking lot. I just can’t get enough. I even brag to my friends about how amazing it is; how mind blowing. I tell them every dirty detail and I make them wish that they had what I have. I plan my future with these apps.
Then one day, one bright Thursday morning, I see new one; a pretty one. It catches my eye like a fish hook—yes, I said a fish hook in the eye—It snags me & I let the line go . But, I don’t just switch and ditch. I try to be good. I try to keep this new app out of my mind and Get Things Done. I remind myself that the app I have is perfect. It fits my needs. It’s part of my life. I’m committed to it. I tell myself I’m loyal user…but then, in the evening, when I’ve checked off everything in my current app and I’ve closed it for the night, I start looking up the new one. I go to its website. I look at all of its pictures (even the old ones when it was barely out of beta). I watch all of the videos and pause so I can get a good look at the right angles. I stalk it until it’s four in the morning. Then, I crawl into bed and I try sleep. I try to shut it out but my mind is racing. I can still feel the flicker of the screen burning my vision. I close my eyes and all I can think about is how that new app will make my life exciting again and how this old app in the phone next to me just nags all day with alarms and reminders. So, I give. I sneak out of bed and in the blue light of my phone, I get that new app, telling myself that I just need to try it. I just need to know if it’s as good as it looks. Inevitably, by the time the sun is up, I’m moving out from the old app and right in with the new one.
It’s a never ending cycle of consumption. None of the apps ever have everything that I need. How could they? The problem isn’t these apps. The problem is with me. I want something that isn’t possible. Something that probably isn’t even necessary. I need to accept things as they are. I need to accept that real life is messy and that swiping and checking won’t ever fix that. You can’t schedule procrastination, laziness and fear out of your day. Organization has its limits.
Real life comes with more junk than drawers; more shoes than shelves and there isn’t aways hardwood under that 70’s shag carpet. In real life, sanding down driftwood is harder than it looks and most houses have short ceilings and small windows. Now, I’m not gonna give up to-do apps (I just met a beautiful one today), but if I want to be successful; if I want do my best work, I need to let go of this perfectionism. I need to cultivate an adventurous spirit that’s willing to fail. I need to nurture the desire and the will power to block out everything else. What I need to remember is that the only ones who run the trains on time are fascists and that if I’m lucky my room will be crammed with stacks of paper, each page a drawing, a poem, a story or a script that I wrote while other people were buying shelves and mason jar terrariums.