Organization and order

Striving for order helps organize the mind and set a course.

Starting in July 2007, I started organizing and loosely cataloging hard copy (print) news clippings, many from the New York Times, in large 2″ thick, 11″x17″ scrapbook-size binders with three “D” ring style metal rings and clear plastic top open inserts from Michael’s craft store.  Perusal of them, and one sees certain subjects appearing more than others. I’m on my fifth scrapbook now, surprising myself that I don’t have ten scrapbooks or more, ten years later.  The first clipping in the first scrapbook is an editorial by Frank Bruni of the New York Times Op-Ed page: ” A Profile in Cowardice” in which he criticizes then President Bush for exposing his true character appearing a tough-guy yet fundamentally a coward.  Since Bruni still writes for the Times, he could be writing about Trump in the same terms, and maybe he has done so already, or will.  But I digress.

I am a saver.  I always have been from my early years.  I clip coupons, I save articles. I save old clothes, some from high school days.  I save pennies, nickels and dimes in a little pink plastic container, the bottom half of a pink piggy bank, and when I accumulate a lot of coins I upend them into a glass jar and when nearly full with all the spare change, I take my coins to a coin counter at the supermarket and spend 8 cents per dollar, or to the community bank and total it all up at no cost, receiving a receipt for use in the store, or deposited back into my savings account. I have a collection of New England Monthly magazines and Direct Marketing magazines which were published decades ago. Luis Tiant, the colorful Boston Red Sox pitcher is pictured on the cover of New England Monthly and profiled in one of the issues.  I also collect shirt tags or labels which are stitched at the inside neck of the shirt.  I have a small matchbook collection saved for over fifty years including a real classic: it’s got six panels plus a cover that profiles the activities of one fictitious Elmer Slugg, a drunk.  I envision the day when I will seriously collect fountain pens, nibs or other decorative writing paraphernalia, but that’s not anything immediate.  There’s so much history about pens that I would first have to learn.  There are pen clubs and collectors worldwide who write, collect, trade and sell amongst themselves.

But back to the binders.

Since the clippings are not organized in any subject categories, i.e., politics, health, art, retirement, I have to wade through them all to see what I have clipped and saved.  The binders are more like a box, with all the clippings thrown in to it. Organization and order in particular is not my strong suit, though I’m working at it because order unclutters the mind.  Keeping binders filled with important articles of interest to me is a step in the right direction; but order with categories separated from each other, or placed alphabetically in the binder would make the binders more purposeful, more useful.

Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler writing about a hundred years ago provided three reasons to strive for order in one’s life:

1. Knowing things are well arranged creates a feeling of inner satisfaction and confidence that everything is under control.

2. Order helps you find things when you need them and saves you time in doing so.

3. Many things will function only if arranged correctly.

The subjects covered in the first binder are pretty consistent with the subjects in the other binders: it starts with an editorial from the New York Times that endorses Barack Obama for President, an editorial from David Brooks highlighting the effects of income inequality on political discourse and public policy, an obituary of a Rabbi Philip Berg, “an updated Jewish Kabbalah mystic”, information on estate planning, travel to Perth and Sydney Australia, and Latin America, and a book review by Al Gore of Elizabeth Kolbert, The Sixth Extinction, which explains that man-made climate change underway right now threatens to eliminate 20-50% of all living species on earth within this century.  There’s a small article about an exhibit at the Smithsonian that features beautiful Persian Calligraphy, and a “how to consciously age”, this from the Spirit of Change tabloid newspaper.

By saving these and many more articles, all of which hold meaning to me as I navigate this world, I can use these articles as beacons and pathways to navigate life in a purposeful way.  It’s so easy for me to get sidetracked.  Collecting memorable articles and guides helps me stay on course, as my life unfolds, making up for the mistakes I have made, and helping me correct course for my own good, my family and all those in my constellation.

Published by Richard Halpern

Retired (but busy) after a lengthy career in business marketing, communications and research. Worked at four start-ups and one turnaround. Now volunteer doing prospect research for a climate activity and social advocacy non profit, amongst other things.

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