Some days, the jumble in my mind makes it hard to concentrate on one thought long enough to acknowledge it, much less write about it. You all know what I mean. It’s like walking into a room with a notion, just the ghost of a reason for going in there, only to be completely overwhelmed with all the things that need to be achieved when you get there. So, you stay and labor for ten minutes, half an hour, maybe even hours, completing more than one task that was just begging to be addressed. Then, a few moments after you exit the room, you realize that your original purpose for going in there wasn’t even started, much less accomplished.
So I sit and mull over first one idea and then another, giving attention to each for a few moments, only to let it fall to the floor of my mind, moving to others in the hopes that one might be worthy of further deliberation. I wish I could tell you it was like going through a room of file cabinets, each neatly labeled on the front, giving me easy access to the subject, or era, or even a specific occurrence. Alas, that is not the case. You see, the file room of my brain is definitely more like Fibber McGee’s closet than like any library’s card catalog system. And, as if to prove my point, both references in the last sentence are to long forgotten locales, McGee’s closet a relic from the golden age of radio and the card catalog a memento of an era past, which disappeared from use in most libraries sometime in the late twentieth century.
As it turns out, I have both systems in use daily at my workplace. When the local university decided to replace its outdated system with the modern equivalent, contained on hard drives and flash drives, and servers, the Lovely Lady decided that her husband and her brother needed a project on which to work. With many more hours of labor than I anticipated and after the application of a few too many Band-aids to my hands, the card catalogs became file drawers for CD accompaniment tracks. They grace the walls of our music store today, a testament to the ingenuity of the Lovely Lady and the determination of one bumbling husband and one skillful brother-in-law. Every time a customer places an order in our online store for the tracks they need, whether it be for one or thirty, we go to the files, selecting the drawer (alphabetically arranged, of course! They are library files, after all) corresponding to their request and pull the (hopefully) correct title. We, and by “we” I mean the Lovely Lady, are duteous, almost to a fault, in keeping the drawers in order and arranged neatly, in anticipation of the next customer’s wish list to be fulfilled.
On the other extreme, there are the filing systems for which I am responsible; Fibber’s closet, if you will. I’ve discussed my desk, that landing place for objects as diverse as Allen wrenches, or trumpet mouthpieces, guitar tuners, and invoices; not to mention returned merchandise and trade magazines. We could go around the corner to the Layaway/small parts/spare case storage area, only slightly less cluttered than my desk. Then there is the container room, dedicated to packaging of all sorts. Friends donate packing materials; they end up there. I purchase shipping boxes; they end up there. Have an item that isn’t suitable for sale in the store, but that might be good on eBay? It ends up there. Last night, as I left the store, I noticed a couple of guitar boxes in the hallway and, knowing that the cleaning crew would be here earlier than I this morning, carried them to the door of the container room and shoved them blindly in. As they settled into place, I heard an ominous crash from further back into the void. Someday, we’ll find out what that was. Oh, hey! We mustn’t forget the storage barn, moved in a few years ago to help with overflow of instruments and shelving. I walked into it today and was amazed at the lack of space available for my use. No, it’s not a small building, measuring twelve feet wide by thirty-six feet long. It’s just that over the last three years, I’ve filled it with things too important to throw away, but not essential enough to have in constant use.
Sound familiar? Yeah, all of those messy spaces are amazingly similar to the jumble in my mind. And, I really don’t have any clear idea of what to write about tonight. So, you’re in luck! You can forgo the customary reading of my normally salient writing today. Talk about a fortuitous development!
The mind does run on, and often takes the fingers with it. Perhaps the filing system could get straightened up a bit before the next post. Come back tomorrow and we’ll give it a shot…
“If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, what is the significance of a clean desk?”
(Laurence J. Peter~American educator & writer~1919-1990)