The fact that different people have different levels of tolerance for mess is the stuff of classic comedy.
Recently, though, I’ve been interested in what I call a walk-around mess: a collection of disorganized items that languishes seemingly unseen because it’s contained and therefore easy to ignore. There’s a section on my desk that fits this description, with papers and notebooks that I never do seem to put away, but that sit tidily and don’t attract my attention. Part of my bedroom does, too, with clothes that I’ve folded on top of the dresser but not put away in drawers; my kitchen counters have several different regions that attract little piles of “where does this go again?” items.
And then there’s that corner of my living room, filled with a disheartening jumble of my son’s toys and the books and DVDs he never tires of pulling from their shelves. Sometimes — most times, at the end of the day — that corner sprawls to fill the room, and I have to decide if it’s worth putting everything back where it belongs, or simply coralling it back to the corner. Unless there’s company coming, I usually opt for the latter… and I’m amazed by my ability to walk around, or even over, the carts, planes, puzzles, and stacking cups that lie in my path.