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  • Writer's pictureLaura Fedolfi

Are you a Haphazardian?

hap·haz·ard /ˌhapˈhazərd/
adjective lacking any obvious principle of organization


***DISCLAIMER*** though I am going to be comparing more clearly organized people with less obviously organized people, I am doing so for the sake of entertainment. I reject the dichotomous notion that we are one thing or another- or that for one thing to be good, another has to be bad. I am, in its most basic sense- just trying to explain to my husband why I don't put my glasses in the same place every night. Please don't take any offense or imagine that I don't think creative beautiful things can't come for organization- just look at nature and you see the most beautiful organization. Ok, now back to the post....


This post is firmly in the category my husband would describe as "efforts to rationalize your lack of discipline" but to my defense, look at that definition...its screaming out for a rationalization. It doesn't say "lacking any principle of organization" says "lacking any OBVIOUS principle of organization." The adjective "obvious" clearly implies that there could be, nay there is some principle of organization, but it isn't easily discernible to the casual observer. In this world of glorifying the obviously organized ( that's right Marie Kondo, I'm looking at you) us Haphazardians need to stand up for ourselves. Or at least pushback on the idea that we are problematic. The first question you should ask yourself about your haphazard ways is "problematic for whom?" For those Type A people, that's whom. Maybe they are the ones engaging in rationalizations? I mean, who writes dictionaries but people with obvious principles of organization. The deck is stacked. [I know I am laying it on thick here, but it is hard to defend the less obvious...]

So what would be a not-obvious principle of organization for self-described Haphazardians? From my perspective of living with someone with a clear principle for organization, I would say that he values structure and reliability: if he keeps track of all of his appointments in one place, he will reliably fulfill all of his commitments. The benefits of this are clear: both professionally and personally, he is someone you can count on. A Haphazardian, on the other hand, might keep some of their commitments in their calendar, but keep others in their head, chanting to themselves not to forget, or planning on adding it later to the calendar once you have time- based on the principle that keeping your brain active remembering pays off in the long run when you are both in a retirement home and you can still remember that Edna St.Vincent Milay poem and he is organizing your pills for you in one of those handy pill organizers you always mean to use...

The thing is, if I'm honest, I'm trying to argue for the merits of haphazardness because that is what I am. I can and do try to be organized on the obvious principles of structure and reliability, because I know they are important to being gainfully employed in society, and it doesn't hurt in your personal life either. But I invariably mess something up, and the facade falls and I have to own my basic nature: I much prefer to work on instinct and some optimistic notion that things will work out. I don't write everything down in the calendar in some part because I don't want to be so tied down but I am too conditioned to please people to say no, but mostly because I have found myself surprised by some of the beauty that comes out of saying yes to too many people and then having to find a creative way to make it work out. Being haphazard means you live by the principle of optimism.

A quick story to illustrate this point. I work as the Director of Religious Education at a wonderful Episcopalian church. At Easter, we do a special project with the kids where they make something that is part of our Easter decorations for the sanctuary. Last year we made Peace Flags using liquid water colors and eye dropper on muslin and they were beautiful. To mix it up, this year I wanted to take the symbol of a butterfly and create the illusion of butterflies in flight in the church- but to do that, I needed to change the material to something stiff enough to hold it's shape: luckily they sell stiff felt. I bought some and took the time to test it out ( I told you I can pass as an organized person), and it worked- though the colors faded as it dried. Not tremendously, but still, not as colorful as the muslin. I knew I had a bag of 50 eyedroppers left over from last year, and after organizing volunteers to cut 100 butterflies, I went into that Sunday ready.

Unfortunately that morning I couldn't find the bag of eye droppers- only 6 that were in a drawer. I had over 50 kids coming in twenty minutes and only 6 droppers. I texted my friend, who had medicine droppers at home, and we managed to scrounge together enough so that each cup of color had one dropper, and the kids took turns using it. This turned out to be such a good thing- as the spirit of this activity was quiet and contemplative. They made beautiful butterflies. A less haphazard person would have made sure to have the bag of eye droppers in hand, but the sharing actually made it better. Until the next morning.

It turned out that the test butterfly I had done I had SOAKED it in colors- but the kids, sharing the droppers, had used far less color, and by Monday morning every butterfly was faded to almost nothing. I had 65 moths. Being haphazard in nature, I had confronted many situations in my life where things did not turn out as I expected, so not wasting time over the problem, I decided to try to salvage what I could of the kids' work. I didn't want to alter their painting, so I added some glitter glue to the edges of the butterflies, hoping that would help. And something very cool happened as I did that. Every place the glitter glue went over faded paint, the paint bled up into the glitter glue. I have no idea why, but it gave me an idea.

Taking a risk, with the encouragement of a friend, I took one of the butterflies and painted glitter glue over the entire surface, and all of the paint rose to the front- the original painting the kids did came through! On top of that, the glitter glue spread thinly over the entire butterfly gave it an iridescent sheen.

It's not careful, or well-planned, but it would never have happened without the sometimes over-looked principle of optimism in the face of unexpected outcomes, and there is a haphazard beauty to it all.

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