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Point of View: Getting Down With Tidying Up

Thu, 11/04/2021 - 10:48

We were talking the other night about tidying up — and the fact that some of us are spreaders, if not super spreaders — when I blurted out, “What difference does it make, really, when we’re floating around in space in a hostile universe?”

Boy, did that stop them. But just for a moment. I hadn’t meant to give offense, just to make a point about all, all being vanity. The hostess, allowing that I did have a point, said that at least imagining one was in control when tidying up was, nevertheless, comforting.

I read in this week’s 125th anniversary edition of The Times’s Book Review that Ralph Ellison had said during an interview that reality was surreal. It’s all so strange, so, yes, you do want to make sense of it, and to at least impose — cling to, I suppose — some semblance of order.

I get it, I get it, which is why I’ve put in a box all the variously sized scribbled-upon notepads, lists of phone numbers, and newspaper clippings that had been splayed over the dining table, and have set them inconspicuously aside.

For the moment, then, a sense of balance has been achieved; a state of entropy, against which we life forms are said to struggle, has been allayed.

I felt similarly at peace on the tennis court yesterday, balanced, mentally and physically, a rare thing for me, who often oscillates between insouciance and hysteria.

Indeed, it was a moving experience, though not quite the moving experience that comes to my neater half’s mind, I’ll warrant, when the table is strewn with all my stuff. Externally, I’ll grant, it looks chaotic, but if she could only see inside, in amongst the synapses, where lead paragraphs and headlines efficiently click into place.

Ugly on the outside perhaps, but beautiful on the inside — the exact opposite of what Edie Beale, 50 years ago, said about East Hampton.

All by way of saying that if I’m to continue fashioning silk purses out of sow’s ears, as it were, I better do so at the office.


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