black door with lilac linen and mess of dishes

Meaningful messes

Filth — no. And a big, consuming mess is depressing. However, a little mess here and there is a sign of a life well lived.  Clearly we must have been preoccupied with something fascinating, or at the very least, pressing, or there would be no mess. No apology needed.

“Things were a little untidy, but what did that matter? It was possible to become the slave of things; possible to miss life in preparation for living.” 
 ― Elizabeth von Arnim

Genteel meaningful messes

Genteel messes are meaningful messes.
If books are involved, messes take on a genteel quality, which qualifies them as meaningful messes.

Genteel meaningful messes are largely a cacophony of books, magazine, papers, the remnants of your beverage, probably wine, coffee or tea, and maybe some clementine peels. It may not be neat, but you do present as a person who clearly loves learning and exploring the written world. Just add fresh flowers and your genteel mess is elevated to the level of a still life painting.

Exuberant meaningful messes

The Curse of the Painter by Danny Hennesy, 2009. Exhuberant messes are meaningful messes.
The Curse of the Painter by Danny Hennesy, 2009. Makers and creatives of all kinds are entitled to exuberant messes.

Exuberant meaningful messes stem from explosions of creativity. No explanation needed when you are creating a masterpiece. Genius is often expulsive. Rock drumming comes to mind. And splashing paint onto huge canvases. And dancing maniacally. And cooking deviously.

Hot meaningful messes

Cooking a demon. Hot messes are meaningful messes.
Sometimes we over-reach our current skill set and hot messes ensue. Write it off as experience and keep creating.

Hot meaningful messes are tributes to having taken monumental risks, and failing monumentally. Forward motion requires trying and failing. You should be rewarded for your courage. Keep moving forward.

Work-in-progress meaningful messes

 A work-in-progress mess is a meaningful mess.
A work-in-progress sorta mess is ok for short periods of time. Like cleaning out your drawers.

Work-in-progress messes can be untidy, but worthwhile. Sometimes you have to make things dirtier before you can make them cleaner. Just don’t let the mess linger too long, or it becomes a drag on one’s peace of mind. In fact, it may be best if you only dump the drawer when you can organize the stuff and re-home it right away.

Adorable meaningful messes

Adorable messes can be meaningful messes.
Boyfriend messes and doggie messes can be cute as long as they are not left to linger.

A boyfriend’s failed baking attempt in a flour strewn kitchen is a cute meaningful mess. Just make him clean it up afterwards. Doggie messes can be cute too. Just snap a photo for Facebook and then get a broom.

Troublesome messes

Dirty dishes are indeed troublesome messes.
Dirty dishes are indeed troublesome.

Troublesome meaningful messes are the domain of dirty kitchens and dirty bathrooms. This is a form of self harm. Love yourself instead. You deserve a little spa to prepare for your day, and a clean, orderly kitchen to prepare your healthy, luxurious, little meals, or your big, life-loving, fam-feeding meals. Clean bathrooms and kitchens are worthy of our time.Our kitchens and bathrooms should be worthy of us.

Also, if clutter in ANY room is so prevalent that we can’t find anything, that is just masochistic. Avoid.

Meaningful messes in parting

Still Life, Henri Fantin-Latour, 1866. If your mess looks like a still life, it is a meaningful mess.
Still Life, Henri Fantin-Latour, 1866. When your messes look like still lifes, that is an unintentional housekeeping victory.

Maybe embracing the quirkiness and humanity of our messes can help us to vanquish them kindly, without self-recrimination. We deserve that. Usually.

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Kelly Ellyn

I am a writer and blogger about homestyling in particular, and lifestyling in general. I come from a background of corporate writing, music, and making my home a beloved nest in which I feel empowered, safe, creative, and inspired.

4 thoughts on “Meaningful messes”

  1. Reading this makes me think of Feng Shui, and the flow of constant moving energy of creativity and life. I can relate to each meaningful type, mostly work-in-progress. There is, however, the forgotten mess, the one(s) which become part of the scenery because they’ve been left to way too long and meld in to the surroundings. Those are the ones to beware of, like stuck energy.

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