17 December 2018

Keep things sorted so you can wreck things efficiently

Several years ago, I wrote a regular column for the JEANS section of 'The Nation'.  The editor of JEANS, Kusumanjalee Thilakarathna now handles the 'Littlestars' tabloid distributed with 'The Sunday Morning'. This is the ninth article for Littlestars.  Scroll down to find the full series of articles written for JEANS and the those of this new series.



It’s nice when things are neat and tidy, isn’t it? When things are in the places they are meant to be, you save a lot of time. You don’t have to spend time looking for that safety pin, hammer, ribbon, pair of scissors etc. You know where it is, you take it, use it and put it back. Simple. 

There are moments however when things get cluttered. This usually happens because people don’t put away things after using them or else fail to put them back where they belong. Before you know it, an entire room can look like a cyclone has passed through it. 

It’s easier when things are put away immediately after using them. Sure, sometimes you are in such a hurry that you tell yourself ‘i’ll do that later’. On the other hand, ‘putting away’ rarely takes more than a few seconds. If you think about it, those precious few seconds can’t really mess up things for you. You’ll still be able to attend to whatever it was that you were engaged in. You can get stuff done and also keep things neat and tidy.  

Sometimes, though, neatness can be boring. It can even be infuriating. Sometimes you want to wreck things up, don’t you?

Wreck?  Sounds violent doesn’t it?  Check out its synonyms: demolish, crash, smash, smash up, ruin, damage, damage beyond repair, destroy, break up, dismantle, vandalize, deface, desecrate, sabotage, leave in ruins, write off, trash and total. Not pretty, right? 

Sometimes you want to paint something pretty. A lovely landscape, for example. Sometimes, however, you want to jumble things up, put things in places that no one expects you to put them. For example, you might want the moon at the bottom of a river. You might want to drown the sun in a lake  You might want to make things fly — chairs, tables, coffeepots and anything else that comes to mind. You might want to paint a crow in red or a parrot in mauve. You might want to use colors in strange combinations.  

That’s also ‘wrecking’. That’s just arranging things in a different way, an unexpected way that can also make people say ‘wow!’  

So just imagine that you have an empty canvas before you. Just imagine you want to paint a ‘crazy’ picture. I use the word crazy within inverted commas just to indicate that it’s only crazy according to what most people think is ‘natural’. Others might think there’s nothing crazy about it.  Anyway, suppose you want to go crazy.  

Let’s suppose, now, that your room or desk or wherever you keep things are an absolute mess. The question is, ‘where are my colors?’  You may want to use pencils, crayons, watercolors or acrylic, but if these things have not been put away neatly, it will be difficult for you to even start your ‘wrecking’ exercise, don’t you think?

Let’s suppose you want to rearrange your room. Say, you want to shift a painting from one wall to another. You need tools for this. A hammer and some nails, perhaps. What if everything is a mess. What if your room is cluttered and people have used and dumped things in the toolshed?  How on earth are you going to ‘wreck’ or rather rearrange the decorations in your room if you have to spend hours looking for the hammer and nails?

I like when people rearrange things. It means that are innovators. It means they are not always happy with the way things are. They are constantly looking to make things look nicer, prettier or better. I like such people.  I want such people to keep ‘wrecking’ or rather ‘rearranging’ things. It would be a pity, don’t you think, that their creativity is hampered by some silly thing such as not being able to find the crayons, a hammer or some nails? 

So, as I said, wrecking is not necessarily a bad thing. However, to be efficient in wrecking, it is generally useful to have your ‘wrecking-things’ neatly sorted and easily accessible. 

It’s simple, really, when you come to think of it. If you are lazy or think you are in too much of a hurry to spend a few seconds putting things away neatly in their right place, you might end up spending hours looking for something you urgently need. While doing that, the idea might fade away. That would be a pity, right? 

Articles for THE SUNDAY MORNING

Articles for THE NATION
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Quotes can take you far but they can also stop you
No one is weak
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Puddles look back at you, did you know?
What's the view like from your door?
The world is rearranged by silhouettes
How would you paint the sky?
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You can fly if you want to
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So what do you want to do with the rain?
Still looking for that secret passage?
Maybe we should respect the dust we walk on
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There are libraries everywhere 
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Fragments speak of a thousand stories 
The games you can and cannot play with rice
The magic of the road less-traveled
Have you ever thought of forgiving?
Wallflowers are pretty, aren't they?
What kind of friend do you want to be? 
Noticed the countless butterflies around you?
It's great to chase rainbows
In praise of 'lesser' creatures 
A mango is a book did you know?
Expressions are interesting things
How many pairs of eyes do you need?
So no one likes you?
There is magic in faraway lights
The thambilil-seller of Giriulla
When people won't listen, things will
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