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The Outer World Reflects the Inner
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I've often thought that the state of a person's personal private spaces reflects their inward reality.

I'm not talking about those parts of the house presented to friends and occasional visitors: the living room, the downstairs bathroom, the patio. I'm talking about the spaire room used for a compter room and the kitchen where one spends hours trying once again to think up an interesting and novel way to prepare chicken.

For someone else, it would be his computer room and the den or the workroom in the garage, where he spends most of his private time.

You would see two very different personalities reflected in those places and you would know immediately which belonged to whom. In our culture, I would be chastised for not having his area as clean and neat as my own, ignoring the fact that he bellows and blusters when I so much as touch an errant piece of paper. So I don't.

I've modified my views on this somewhat over several years. Some foster chaos deliberately--the kind of destructive chaos where you can't ever find anything and the place is a visual nightmare. Where an anthropological dig would find layers of dirthy clothes, used dishes, partially-filled glasses and cups, software CDs and many other artefacts of the 21st century in astonishing and frustrating chaotic mess. The anthropologist would flee the scene.

The other kind of mess is just as untidy, but if our anthropologist looks carefully, there is order in the chaos. And a kind of joyous cheer to the untidy tumble.

In the other instance, all the users' manuals are in one pile, the bills to be paid in another, the dirty clothes heaped in the laundry basket, the computer visible and functional, the sewing materials in their own niche, the books in piles and on shelves more or less organized. The effect is of a busy and happy person, where the anthropologist might say, "Well, I'm sure you know where everything is. I'll just sit here with my cup of coffee and chat."

I work with someone who is incrediby neat and tidy--pens all lined up on the desk, chair squarely facing the computer, each edge of the pages aligned with the others, all papers filed away and not a speck of dust anywhere. That says volumes, too.

Of course, if the homes or work places are cleaned professionally, then anthropologists would get a wrong impression of order and cleanliness unless they poked inside drawers, file cabinets and medicine chests. But we won't ask our imaginary anthropologist to do anything so intrusive.

Do you agree that the outer spaces reflect the morphology of the mind and spirit?

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