Can we say, “enough already”? Is it time? I thought this when I opened my email this morning to find an article called “10 Garage Organization Ideas That Will Change Your Life.” If having a Pinterest worthy garage “changes my life,” my life must suck. Either that, or I’ve entirely lost a grip on reality. Either the garage that holds all my outside stuff and tools just fine, thank you very much, is life, or the fact that I need to show people that it holds my stuff in the most beautiful way is life. Which is true?

I find Pinterest to be an awesome place to store recipes. It is also, though, a recipe for disaster. Our first sense of this should have been the first time “Pinterest fails” became a thing. You know, like when some professional baker who had years of experience and spent hours getting every detail right on the best lego cake they’d ever made and posted it to Pinterest, and I cake-in-a-boxed it to a droopy, pea-green glob. When this site first got going, why didn’t we anticipate that this sense of inadequacy would happen? Or, let’s be real, this pointing out of actual inadequacy?

The real disaster, though, is the horrible cocktail of social media nonsense. Society took a little of this Pinterest creative curating, a little of the Facebook tell-the-world-and-show-them-a-photo-of-your-life, and transformed it all into Instagram show-the-world-a-glimpse-of-your-life-but-not-everything and made us “real-life”-denying monsters.

Take this picture for example from the garage ideas that will change my life. These garden tools are beautiful. They match! They are hanging and not touching! They are shiny and clean! In ultimate hilarity, the title of this tip in the article is “Hang your most-used items.” If this is your garage, are you cleaning the garden shovel when you’re done using it, ’til it shines with a gleam that says, “Take a photo of me and put me on Instagram pronto?” Where are the tools these people actually use? That rake is made of cardboard. The leaves that you touch with that piece of garbage would rake your rake. Useless. But clean and matchy-matchy!!!

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One of the actual tips in the article is “Prioritize Pretty.” In your garage? I quote, “The brightly colored door and matching storage bins above the sink make this garage a place you might actually want to spend your time.” Why, in the name of all things bright and beautiful, would anyone, ever, need to make the garage a place they want to spend their time. Even if my garage were “pretty,” I’d want to spend my time almost anywhere else. I’d rather spend my time at the beach. Or on the couch. Or folding clothes. Or plucking my arm hair out one at a time. I do not want to spend my time in my garage. If I ever want to spend more time in the garage, it is time to keep all those garage doors and windows closed and get that car exhaust kicking.

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I get what we are doing here. I read the Life-Changing Magic of Shut the Hell Up last year. You can read my enthusiastic post about it. I even threw a lot of stuff out in the process.


It was helpful to my inner hoarder—really, it was. But we have taken this too far. We are finding clever ways to organize our organizing tools. We are writing 400 word articles about keeping your countertops clear of clutter. We are thinking some garage design hack will “change our lives.” But I believe, in my deepest of deeps, that we are getting it all wrong. Here’s what will change our lives: living.

This constant organizing, this taking pictures of these beautiful things, this showing each other what we’ve done so we can prove it happened instead of experiencing things while they happen—what would happen if we stopped doing these things?

I have a friend who may be getting sued by a neighbor because of something to do with a sump pump that keeps their basement dry damaging the neighbor’s landscaping. It is stressful, and has taken a toll on my friend’s experience of enjoying her day-to-day life. This friend, in conversation, made a point that I thought of as I read this garage article. She said, “Our houses are not showpieces. They are places to live.” Amen, and amen.

I get the need to feel less cluttered because you have less clutter around you. I do—that’s why I totally cleared stuff out when I read that horrible above-mentioned book. I get that our society’s collecting of things has gotten out of control. That less is more, and that we have learned that.

But at some point, as we humans tend to do with all things good and beautiful, we have taken it too far. Somehow the recipe of the clear-the-clutter movement combined with the show-the-world movement led to this article landing in my inbox, about how an organized garage can change my life.

Everyone has a line. And I draw mine here. I prefer my garage as a place where I keep messy tools that are useful in taking care of my home. Having it tidy so I don’t trip when I’m in there is a bonus. But I draw the line at having “pretty” be a word attached to my garage. Ever. I’ll take “Used.” I’ll take “lived in.” I want shovels that are muddy because all the ones we own have been used, preferably not by me. I want rolls of twine unfurled because we’ve thought of another use for the 3,000 feet of twine we thought we should buy at Home Depot 12 years ago. I want bikes that are piled on top of each other because my kids have used them often without my supervision and have attempted to put them away on their own.

Let’s look a little closer at what the underlying cause of this over-doing is. When we clean and organize to this level, we are trying to gain control over our naturally messy houses. And this may be an attempt to get a sense of control of our naturally messy lives. Then, when we want to take pictures and show people these good things, we are trying to curate how people see us—to have control over both how we’re seen and who we are. The problem, though, is this: it doesn’t matter how people see us. That approval we’re seeking—those “likes,” at the least, that envy at the most—none of it will make us actually and ultimately happy.

All of this—the cleaning, the showing—removes us from this real and true thing: we are who we are. We are living the lives we are living. This beautiful thing is messy sometimes, and it is life. We cannot stop life from being what it is. What we can do, though, is live.

I want to think twice before spending another minute organizing something in a way that will “change my life,” instead of spending that time reading a book. I want to think twice before taking a picture of something beautiful happening so I can share it, instead of experiencing that beautiful thing to the fullest.

I don’t know about you, but I’m done showing. I want to live.