However hard I try, I am not the tidiest person in the world; I have also known people who are far untidier than I am.
Nowadays my untidiness doesn’t much bother me but, at one time, it did! When I was in my twenties and thirties we lived in a very nice little modern house, in a row of identical houses, all inhabited by young parents. Quite often we would baby-sit for one another - and at that time it bothered me a great deal! I would come home from an evening in a house that was identical to my own, feeling quite depressed that somehow I could never achieve the kind of tidiness that my neighbours did.
Looking back I can see that my life was somewhat different from the others in that I had so many ‘hobbies’ that invariably required more storage than the tiny house provided so there always seemed to be ‘clutter’ around!
Our next house was a Victorian one and it seemed to provide a solution. Older houses seem to ‘absorb’ my kind of untidiness; in fact I don’t worry about it any more as long as I can find what I need!
But recently I was looking for the ‘Terms and Conditions’ of my Home Emergency Service provider before making a phonecall to change to a different provider. It wasn’t where I thought it was and I ended up turning out my overstuffed filing cabinet, removing the oldest papers to make room for new ones. I was soon drowning under a sea of paper as I sorted things into piles for recycling, for shredding etc - when a tiny scrap of paper floated out from somewhere with something scribbled on it -
‘a tidy house is a sign of a wasted life’
It set me wondering, what is a ‘wasted life’?
I’m not sure that we can ever say for certain that anything is truly wasted but it does seem to me that not doing our utmost to reach our full potential is a waste of our lives.
It was hearing a sermon, some years ago, on the parable of the ‘talents’ that brought this home to me forcefully and led to me taking a first step back into painting, after a gap of several years, by volunteering to help with the scenery for the church drama group’s upcoming production, Dick Whittington.
Maybe Dick Whittington, in boldly setting out to seek his fortune in London, was, in a way, trying to reach his full potential. He did, after all, end up as Lord Mayor of London!
So what is it that can hold us back from being all that we have it in us to be?
- ‘Parental expectations’ is one of the culprits that springs immediately to my mind. My two oldest sisters, both became primary school teachers and I always assumed that was their choice. But the younger of the two, when she was approaching retirement age, confided in me that she had never wanted to teach, but that our parents had expected her to follow in her older sibling’s footsteps. What she really wanted to do was open an Art and Craft shop and we began to make plans to do this together as soon as she retired. But she died suddenly within a couple of months so she never got around to doing what she would have been happiest doing. A cautionary tale! I’ve known others who realise, late in life, that they are still working to ‘repay’ their parents for all they’ve done for them by following the career of their parents' choosing and not their own.
- Fear of failing.
- Unwillingness to ‘rock the boat’ because we have grown comfortable as we are.
- Social and peer pressure to maintain the status quo, to be the sort of person we’ve always been and never venture outside the box we’ve created for ourselves.
- The fear that if we go our own way, strike out on our own path, we’ll be seen as selfish, by ourselves as well as by others.
- The need to ‘keep up appearances’ and this is where ‘tidiness’ may come in!
Do you feel that you're working towards reaching you full potential? If not, maybe this is the moment to begin - better late than never!
'It's never too late to be what you might have been,'