Monday, May 31, 2010


I have a drawer filled with Tupperware and it's cheap knock-off cousins. I'm sure you have one too. All those containers have to end up somewhere. The drawer itself is a mess. I have tried many times to organize it but alas I am not the sole inhabitant of this abode. So, the Tupperware gets literally thrown into a drawer by the fridge anticipating whatever delightful culinary left-overs get dished into them. As much as containing the containers annoys me, the plastic mountain is very useful.

Humans, in general, are really great at containing and compartmentalizing everything. Everything has it's place and we like it that way. Books on the book shelf. Toys in the toy box. Clothes in the closet. Cars parked in lots. Papers in a filing cabinet. Canned goods in the pantry. Children in desks. Adults in cubicles. Everything and everyone doing what's expected. We have excelled greatly in our organization, order and structure of both inanimate objects as well as our lives. This system of containing things has spread into our thoughts, beliefs and feelings more than we realize. So much so that when life gets messy and the compartmentalized aspects of our lives get dumped out we can't make sense out of the chaos. I think it's because our containers rarely touch each other. Our container of faith does not touch our container of reason. Our container of love does not touch our container of social activism. Our container of grief does not touch our container of vulnerability. Our container of compassion does not touch our container of self-preservation. Our container of justice does not touch our container of pride. This is unreality. No wonder we are often in a tailspin when the poo hits the fan or when we are faced with something out of our control. We have not practiced opening our containers and creating something beautiful in the mixing bowl of our lives. This takes work, creativity and a letting go of ways and systems that have bound us and have reduced our ability to impact. It is an embracing of chaos, which might sound scary but is ultimately freeing.

When I stopped trying to contain the Tupperware containers in my drawer, I felt free. They are a big, happy disaster and when I see them all hanging out in there I have a picture of how every part of my life needs to connect and touch the other parts for it make sense. Faith and reason holding hands. Love changing poverty, cancer, AIDS, the environment. Sharing grief and pain with people who have been there. Feeling the cost of giving of ourselves for someone else. Start dumping. Make a mess! See what happens.


  1. Glad to know I'm not the only one whose plastics drawer looks like that! I'll steal your phrase and call it a "happy disaster" from now on. And thanks for the thoughts to ponder. In my work, the need to have structure and love and compassion and productivity and routines and flexibility all at the same time is something I'm constantly thinking about and working towards.

  2. Donita!
    Life is full of extremes. Your words "structure" and "flexibility" are that! Yet both are important and are often running on parallel tracks. Life is certainly strange!! Glad to know that your plastic drawer has a cousin!!