16. Everything Has its Place

This essay is part of my 42 Deep Thoughts project.

If you ever want to have a luxurious cooking experience pre-prepare all of the ingredients in advance in bowls so that while you’re cooking you have each ingredient ready when it’s needed.

In French this preparation is called mise en place — everything put in its place.

Everything having a place ensures that you have it when you need it, it ensures that you haven’t missed anything, and it helps you control your the outcomes better, because you’re in control of as many inputs as possible.

Just like in cooking, when you prepare everything in advance nothing gets lost, one of the things I discovered is that having a place for everything in your home means that you never lose anything, and your home is always neat.

“Where did I put my keys?” — that only happens when you don’t put them away. It’s easy for that to happen, you run through the door and need to put down your bags, or relieve yourself, and before you know it you can’t remember when or where you put down your keys.

I’ve lived in several tiny apartments, there just wasn’t room for all the things we had. Marie Kondo wouldn’t have been able to find a place for all the things that sparked joy.

Sometimes you just don’t have room.

We resolved not having a place for everything by having boxes stacked neatly in our hall. Once we moved into a larger home, though still not huge, we were able to find a place for everything.

The house no longer gets cluttered, only when I let the mail pile up.

Before we moved into that house I watched Marie Kondo’s series and I took away two very valuable pieces of advice for keeping things clean.

I’m a sentimental person, and I’ve always had trouble throwing things out. I have a very early memory of a parent anthropomorphizing a doll, and the rest is history. Her description of thanking an object before setting it into the “get rid of” pile helped me with my sentimentality and ultimately being able to get rid of quite a lot of things I no longer needed.

The other piece of wisdom I gleaned from Marie Kondo was that if you value something enough to keep it, you should have a specific place, and container for it. Keeping things in boxes just won’t cut it — your childhood blanket that you don’t want to throw away deserves a special box.

The one “thing” that doesn’t have a specific place is a person.

Greatness happens when people reach beyond their place.

Another aspect of keeping things clean, is the rule that you should always leave the playground cleaner than how you found it.

I’ve felt this rule deeply throughout my life, and believe that it applies on the grander scale of the world in its entirety, and the people you meet as you go through it.