Finding communication amid clutter

I have long since forgotten who gave me the tastefully gold-lettered sign that’s been rooted on my workspace for years. “A Cluttered Desk Is the Mark of Genius,” it says. Of course, it is securely planted amid the everlasting clutter, sometimes rendered almost invisible, lost among folders, boxes, books and piles of paper.
Among the latter, I often find bits covered with impossible-to-decipher notes that once must have meant something – maybe even something important. No matter how often I neaten things up, no matter how diligently I purge the accumulations, no matter how often I promise myself I won’t let the desk get into that shape again, it always does. That sign remains at the center of things, endlessly reminding me of its comforting half-truth, half-lie A cluttered desk? Yes! A sign of genius? Not so much.
One of my worst habits is making quick notes on small scraps of paper, that just as quickly become parts of the workday rubble, later to be found as lost futures that have already faded into the past. When I unearth them, they are like strange treasures encountered during an excavation, all needing similar research. Why didn’t I jot down a name with this telephone number, since I have no idea whose it is? Where is the announcement of the forthcoming book review I’ve made a note to attend, and when? And, what is the book in question?
It’s amazing how quickly some “current events” stop being current, and how unimportant some heavily underlined future events become after I missed them. But, it’s also amazing how often I unearth a forgotten gem that I can once again reread with the great pleasure it gave me originally – which I why I saved it: Because it makes me think. Here’s one I have just found, penciled in my own handwriting, on a nondescript square of scratch paper, source unknown.
“It does no harm, just once in a while, to acknowledge that the whole country isn’t in flames. That there are people in this country besides politicians, entertainers and criminals. And they do really good things. And maybe the world isn’t such a bad place after all.”
I have no idea who said this, or when and why, and how it took up residence on my desk. But it’s a good message, and I’m glad I wrote it down. I would like to thank whoever said this, but I don’t even have an unidentified phone number for this one.
Here’s another: “I fear a day when I will not remember you…No longer see your face, or feel your touch…” This reads like the start of a poem written after a very personal loss. Written by whom? This is scrawled, in my own handwriting, of course, on a scrap of paper less than half the size of the one mentioned above. There is a clue of sorts: The handwritten note is below what is obviously the printed head of a longer piece of paper. It says, in blue letters, “A Note for You.” Am I the “You?” Whose note is/was this, anyway? I have very recently marked five years since the passing of my husband, and am definitely not the owner of this “fear.” But, where did I get this? And why? And how? And from whom?
Clearing off my desk to once again reach “ground level” is among many projects that can be postponed, and too often are. But this one shouldn’t be, because I know I will always find some forgotten treasures, such as the ones noted above. Good words, important words, words worth passing on. And, when I finally start to do it, I also know I’ll have that same “clean” feeling I get after unloading the dishwasher or the washing machine. Even better, because the desktop makes promises of hidden treasures to be found, reread, appreciated – maybe even the gifts of true geniuses with equally messy desks!

Leave a Reply