adjective jum·bly \-blē\
Definition: jumbled, confused
The truth is, every area of my life is pretty jumbly these days.
That makes me uncomfortable, as it would most people, I suspect. And that discomfort has caused me to focus on all of the ways that my life is “less than”: less than ordered, less than complete, less than fulfilling. In short, less than perfect.
And then something happened that stopped me in my tracks. An unexpected generosity, offered gently when least expected. If this were entirely my story to share, I would explain – but since it’s not, I’ll just ask you to imagine: you have an armful of various fragile objects you must not drop, each varying in size and weight; objects keep getting added to this load until you are in danger of dropping them all. Just when you are about to lose your hold, someone quietly walks up and takes the largest, heaviest object. Without asking, without calling attention, without expectation of return.
This generous act did not fix all the jumbly-ness of my life.
But it did set in motion a re-ordering of my thinking. I was reminded of a great vintage shop in Minneapolis called Hunt and Gather (pictured, above). The shop is filled with a jumbly mess of stuff. When you first arrive, it can feel overwhelmingly chaotic. You wonder how anyone finds anything there. Then, surprisingly, the chaos of it overwhelms your mental need for order. You suddenly begin to see beauty and whimsy in the details; the very messy-ness of the place becomes charming. And instead of thinking about the ways the place is “less-than” (less than clean, less than organized, less than roomy), you begin to think about the ways it is wonderful.
One simple act of generosity helped me to see my need to create that same kind of shift when looking at the jumbly chaos of my life. Instead of letting the chaos overwhelm me, I can look for the beauty and whimsy within it. Its ginormity can be recast as abundance; as “greater than”: complex, multilayered, generative. When I am able to make this shift in my perspective, space opens up to see all the ways my life is wonderful – not only all the ways it is “less than”.
Suddenly, I can look at the jumbly mess and understand Nietzsche when he says:
“You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star.”