Jon DeVos: That is exactly where it belongs
July 31, 2014
My wife is fond of saying, "A place for everything and everything in its place." Well, actually, "fond of" isn't quite right; maybe it's more accurate to say that she lives in that statement.
OK, I'll confess on her behalf, sometimes she gets faintly obsessive and moderately threatening about shuffling things about, even to the point of shaking her head and rearranging something that I have already placed in a perfectly good spot. So far she has been unsuccessful in bending me to her will but I've found she has much more accurate geo-positioning than NASA when it comes to her idea of where things need to be.
Other than that, we get along fine. She and I are in complete agreement with the first part of the statement that says there is a place for everything. It's the second part of the slogan where things go south and let the bickering begin! She claims the second part goes like this: ". . . and everything in its place."
That differs from how I know it. In my world the phrase finishes ". . . and everything is in its place." That extra "is" is a subtle grammatical difference but it's worlds apart in philosophical viewpoints. Believing that things are already where they should be is much more calming than worrying about where they should go.
"Is" is such a powerful word that it brought down a president. Bill Clinton rested his reputation on the definition of "is," describing his relationship with Monica Lewinsky firmly, "There is nothing going on between us." He explained afterward that "is" is present tense, and at the exact moment he uttered the statement, his undies were pulled up and his britches were zipped. So his statement was honest, accurate and true and got him impeached. Later he pointed out that he never once said that nothing had been going on with Ms. Lewinsky, always keeping his answers in the present tense.
So, the question is the definition of "is". My wife thinks that there is only one particular spot for everything in the known universe. Not only that, but that one spot is so unique that it's OK to outline it in blue paint. That way there's not just one place, but also only one direction for it to go.
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I believe it's just common sense to look for something where you used it last. Instead of wasting time putting things away, just put them down. They'll be right there where you're likeliest to need them the next time. Is it better to spend 10 minutes putting something away or to spend 10 minutes looking for it? There are people who get anxious when confronted with disarray. I am not one of them. Even my happy place is messy.
"Everything is in its place," I muttered contentedly under my breath, "I mean, where else would something be if it wasn't where it is? It is wherever it is. As we've seen, however, much depends upon your definition of "is".
"I don't understand your laundry issue about the socks all over the floor of my room," I said, "That's where they are, so that's their place. I see absolutely no difference between picking them up off the floor and picking them up out of the hamper. They are where they are."
Like usual, our differences were quickly settled. Discussion died off when it became too difficult for me to talk with a mouthful of socks. Nonetheless, I think she is coming around a bit.
Of course, a lot depends on what "is" means.