There Are No Clean Lines In Life, And You Don't Have To Worry That Much About It

Today I feel like a lightning bug, flickering, lingering, sluggish in summer heat. I feel like a lone and distant star, homesick for a galaxy I have never belonged to

Photo by Igor Ovsyannykov on Unsplash

Classic, clean lines.

Now that I'm spending more time in the fashion world, I’m surrounded by the “innovative” ways companies describe themselves. And I realize how many of them say the exact same thing (heck, I would have said the exact same thing if I were them). Each brand lives in a vacuum, describing their products as you would describe your own child—fully honest, but maybe a little blinded by bias.

It’s a thrill when I click through to a company site that either knocks the wind out of me or prompts a whaaaaat. Beautiful branding, beautiful products, great storytelling.

But this post isn’t about what I brands I find compelling. It’s about the phrase clean lines and why that it stuck with me today.

Everyone wants a life of clean lines, but it's unattainable.

We like to imagine our lives as neat and tidy bookshelves that we can artfully style—put all the skills and professional experience in a color-coded corner, cohesive and chronological. Pop a few happy family photo albums in between grandma’s vase and grandpa’s navy hat. Show off your very mature interests with The Complete Works of Gustav Klimt and War And Peace and of course a few works by Vonnegut because it makes you appear relatable to the common man while still being aloof and mysterious.

Clean lines, a starting point and an ending point for each thing, and everything contained in its proper place.

But our lives are a little more like a poorly-constructed IKEA bookcase that’s bulging with books and papers and half-filled journals. There’s a handful of books about vintage clothing because you thought that’s what you wanted to do for a few months, there’s a program from your grandmother’s funeral service in there, too. There’s a pencil holder filled with crochet hooks and loose bits of yarn not big enough to use, but you like the color so you've kept them. Your diploma is in there too, still in its mailing envelope. Where’s Waldo and adult coloring books are peppered in. Sometimes it all comes crashing down and you have to rebuild and you don’t care about the order of things because there never was one.

What I’m saying is that there are no clean lines. The story of our lives lays out like a Venn Diagram with a million circles, most overlapping, some hanging out as total islands.

So how can we embrace the squiggle? The roughness that can’t be sanded down? Where can we see it, and how can we celebrate it?

Non-attachment is a constant theme in my yoga practice, and I work at it almost every day. I can be good and non-attached for the hour long class (O.M.G. Look at how non-attached she is), but it’s bringing the practice into my daily life that’s been the challenge.

But it’s allowing me to see that I thrive more in a fluid state than I do in a rigid one. For example, flowing through my daily schedule versus delineating every minute allows for a little more margin, and a little more self-compassion.

Even though my last two posts were about structure, I think the key to handling structure is that fluid mindset. I do my best to write every day, but if I must skip a day or write a little less one evening, I’ve been working on letting that moment go. No good ever comes from self-deprecation or dwelling on failure. 

I think structure + fluidity can coexist.

Structure is having a glass to pour water into, and a fluid mindset means trying your best to pour all the water into the glass—but not minding too much if you spill. No use crying over spilled schedules.

Rough Edges Are Everywhere

I see the not-so clean lines when I see the scuffs on my shoes and the flyaway hairs on my head and the rabbit hay sprawled across my rugs. But that’s the sign of a life that is being lived—it’s not ever going to be exactly as clean as we want it to be, so maybe we should stop trying to force it.

Sure, we can love beautiful things, but we shouldn’t love them any less if there’s a presence of something ugly. I can be frustrated with my acne, but I can still appreciate how nice my eyes look when I wear my blue shirt. I can be completely fed up with the apartment and all its noise, but I can still take some comfort in my little lackluster writing corner that really lights up when I ignite one of my favorite candles.

I can be annoyed at my own voice on this blog, but I can celebrate the fact that I’ve never written this much in this span of time in my entire life. They’re just dumb words, but they’re still words. (And lots of them!)

So I hope you don’t spend all your time searching for something that may never come. Things will get cleaner, and clearer, and then they’ll get chaotic again. But it’s all a work in progress, and sometimes we need to just embrace the mess. 

And because I’m feeling dramatic tonight, here’s a little poem I hacked together:

Are there no neat containers, no straight days?
It’s all spilled out in so many ways.
And we spend all our time searching until we find
A few final beeps and a ringing clean line.