Order & Chaos

JZL CK
3 min readJun 17, 2024

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Many a times, people have asked me this one question- ‘why is it that I’ve made it my life’s mission to put things in order?’ The first dozen times, I assumed the question was a jealous-stricken complement in disguise. But having heard it a couple of hundred times and in contexts which can most certainly not claim any positive connotations, I am forced to reflect on my infamous behavior. From the get-go, let me be clear that I’ve not been diagnosed with OCD- although I’m not entirely opposed to the idea of the tag. Regardless, this is not a piece wherein I hang the tag on my own neck- if need be, I’ll leave that to the professionals. This, on the contrary, is a humble effort on my part to piece the puzzle together of my vexing aberration.

Photo by Yan Ots on Unsplash

The need to organize, I believe, is something I inherited from my mother. However, this need didn’t show up until it was a burden. If it did show up when I was 5, I could have very well been an easy child- which I certainly was not. I don’t remember being especially messy as a child- but I don’t remember being praised for being squeaky clean either. But I do remember admiring my mom’s quality- wishing I could also spot a missing commodity in a moment’s notice, to be able to fit in anything in a cardboard box, to be able to create the illusion that everything is perfect.

I am not sure when exactly the fondness for organizing stuff became an obsession- I suspect it was around the time I started truly owning stuff. Transitioning into a hermit life probably played the role of manure- with no parental checks or colored flags, the devil grew in size and slowly took over. For a while, I was of the false illusion that it was a sustainable quirk — useful, even necessary at times. As time passed, as random people made occasional entry- I got to realize that this certainly was no boon. I’m positive that a lot of you still struggle to fathom the intensity of the issue. And I know of only a few ways to properly communicate the experience- none of which can be done via a piece of white paper. Also, I still am not at a place to share the minute details of my life with total strangers. And to truly and completely convey the gravity of the said catastrophe, I’d have to share the blueprint of my life (the fact that ‘blueprint’ is not a metaphor might very well give you some clue I guess).

The need to be in control, I believe, is not unfamiliar to the ton- we all crave control. But where and when we realize the absurdity of control, we draw the line. That line is nonexistent in my life- my pursuit for control knows no bounds. This in no way means I get to control everything, or even most things I want to for that matter- rather, it means I am in for a game that guarantees dereliction every single time. Even when I seem to collect quite a few accolades and perceived to be in a winning streak for the typical, I’ve always been at the losing end. And constantly failing the same game for over two decades does things to you- it changes you, and mostly not in a good way. One might think it would at least bring about some much-needed clarity as to how ludicrous the goal of perfection is- but no, if anything, it only drowns you further into the illusion- dream of one day reaching perfection.

Fortunately for me, I don’t have a high standard for perfection. For that, I thank the world I live in- messy and chaotic. But I also do blame the world for being messy and chaotic, for there are now things in abundance I am obliged to bring to order.

Writing this short note has been a kind of training for me as well- to embrace imperfection or at least to tolerate it- to resist the temptation to move a step closer to the enigma of perfection. And I believe I’m getting better (worse).

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