Number 179, June 24, 2002

"Assume a Meditative Stance"

The Anarchist's Guide to Being Neat
by David M. Brown

Special to TLE

A crucial self-help principle--one that is rarely elaborated, stressed, or exalted in most of the rah-rah-rah primers, which talk instead about how to get sex and money and happiness, important items but not all there is to life--is the principle of being neat and tidy.

I used to be a disorganized person. Messy person. Been there. Been there, done that. Feel your pain. I know where you're at, bro, because I used to be in that place myself, that dark place of untidiness and unkemptness. I grok. I grok. And I can help. Whether you're a college student, a husband, or a bum off the street, I can help. Maybe not you--but somebody.

First, let's probe into the psychology of it. There are two types of personalities. The autocratic "Felix" personality and the anarchistic "Oscar" personality, archetypes best exemplified by the eponymous characters of the movie and television series, "The Odd Couple." Felix and Oscar are opposites who often clash, yet who are also often complementary. Each possesses something which the other lacks. You might say that Felix is the yin to Oscar's yang. The up to Oscar's down. The minus-90-degrees to the plane of the ecliptic to Oscar's plus-90-degrees to the plane of the ecliptic.

You don't want to be either one of these people. You don't want to be prissy and anal like Felix. And you don't want to be a hopeless slob like Oscar, drowning in your own detritus. What you want to do is you want to meld and merge the two personalities, combining the strengths of each while discarding the counterproductive elements of both. You want to be relaxed without being lax, neat without shooting skeet.

The system I've developed involves Superior Organization and Discipline through Deep Breathing and Mental Willpower. It is something I have worked very hard on and that I want you to try as well. What we do is we "deconstruct" your naturally messy inclinations and then we "reconstruct" them in more orderly and (this is important) positive fashion, sans spousal nagging. We tap consciousness of self and reorientation of self, in a mellow, fluid mode. Simple technique, really. But a powerful one.

Okay, let us begin. Assume a meditative stance. Now, I'm going to suggest a line of thought to you, a "story line," and I want you to be receptive to this story line. Open your mind and heart. If you think it will help, take a few deep breaths. Inhale. Exhale. Again. Okay. Now, project a scenario in which you simply throw your socks on the floor when you take them off. Of course, you'd prefer it if you were the type of person who every time you removed your socks, you tossed them in the hamper or sock bin or wherever it is they're supposed to go. Yet you do not! Why?

You are lazy, you tell yourself; or perhaps not sufficiently mindful, you tell yourself. Perhaps you are rebelling against certain cosmic strictures. Or maybe your day at the office was filled with strife and struggle, you are plumb tuckered out, your whole body is deflated, you are the walking undead, and you just do not have it in you to get up and go over and properly file the sock. That piddling little extra half-second--too much to ask! And besides, the phone is ringing. Or so you tell yourself. Yes, that is your story, your self-told tale.

But is laziness truly the root problem here? Or loss of energy? Lack of time? So-called "distractions"? No! Heh heh. The root problem is that you have the wrong perspective on the nature of sock-disposal! On the nature of the sock itself! And on the nature of your relationship to the sock!

We as human beings tend to do...what we want to do! We tend not to do...what we don't want to do! We are creatures of want and anti-want! In the same time it takes to port your sock to the hamper or washing machine, you could easily and unconflictedly scratch your nose. The difference in the amount of energy and personal commitment is negligible.

Yet, for whatever reason, the prospect of hauling your sock to the hamper makes you angry, depressed, sweaty, nervous...ah, screw it, just throw it on the floor, right? Somebody else will pick it up later! And thus do you rebel against the handling your own sock! You become the enemy of your sock! Whereas the thought of scratching your nose...bellissima! Why not! It is the veriest ecstasy!

Have I not outlined the entire psychological process that happens to you--nay, which you impose upon yourself? Be honest. The first stage of recovery is acceptance. Accept. Accept. Then, and only then, can we rectify. Acceptance and rectification, I call it. A sequence of humanity and love. (Patent pending.)

Let us say that you have reached this stage, that you now understand and accept your anti-sock mania, your anti-sock psychosis, your anti- sock ideology. Your dementia is "on the table," as it were (though your sock is still on the floor!). What next? Well, what's next is a process I characterize as "counter-self-talk." You tell yourself a new story about what it all means. In this story, the sock becomes your friend, not your enemy...a friend that you are happy and proud to take care of in the proper way!


David M. Brown is the publisher of The Crunch Report. To be notified when new articles are posted at the Report, send an email with the words "subscribe me" to


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