Fussiness (Little Miss Perfect)

I deal with this everyday.

Note: this post is intentionally overlong and verbose.

There’s something insidious about fussiness, I’ve felt this my whole life. It’s not that being orderly is bad. Obviously being orderly is good.

It’s when we decide that everything disorderly is bad. We make a tut-tut of disapproval and an inner voice that tells us this just won’t do.

This just won’t do. This just won’t do what, exactly?

What’s the consequence of not keeping everything so orderly? It feels like it must be something drastic.

But when you think about it in reality there there isn’t any consequence at all, is there.

If clothes and books and papers are strewn everywhere around my room, are you really going to suggest that’s some kind of health hazard? Pretend that’s going to make someone sick?

Fussiness is a huge distraction and time sync, and it generates a lot of purchasing. It keeps you very busy. It keeps your thinking in a certain place all the time. To think about keeping your house clean, you’re constantly going back to that orderly thinking, which does not require much brain power. Where should this go? And where should this go? What task should I do next? What just won’t do?

If you’re thinking about writing a novel, or cooking up some formula for the next big chemical innovation, or you’re waist-deep in research, or thinking deeply at all–you don’t really have time to be orderly.

You can’t be worrying about crumbs on your kitchen counter and composing a symphony at the same time. There’s not enough room in your head.

But if you want to keep your place clean, if you want to be fussy about your car– you don’t let people eat in there–that’s fine of course. (I used to have a policy that in my car no one was allowed to wear shoes. They had to take them off and put them in a little box because I wanted my mats to stay clean.)

That’s fine, but it’s when that little disapproving pout comes out, when you sort of freak and you can’t handle that there is a mess, 

And you respond disproportionately to a mess, to something normal, to something that can be cleaned up or replaced

That’s when it gets gross.

I think what’s gross is the relative weight people are giving things versus other people. When you decide that things are more important than people, to me that’s gross.

So if you’re going to stand up and say to somebody that their shirt has a hole and you don’t like it, you’re going to hurt their feelings for the sake of seeing nicer shirts.

You’ve devalued that person significantly.

Or maybe what’s gross is that we’re not thinking of people at all when we’re in that fussy mode. We’re too upset about the thing.

For example: we don’t worry about what we’re going to talk about at the party or how the people at the party are going to feel, we’re worried about what the people at the party are going to think of our dress.

People can just worry about paperwork too, about things on forms.

You fill out the form, and they want the information to be a certain kind of way–and I understand, I like things to be consistent and orderly, I like good data and all that.

But it’s actually dangerous how big of a deal people make when things aren’t as orderly as they want them to be.

People start hyperventilating, very mildly hyperventilating, and then they get angry. Over a mistake on a piece of paper that can easily be fixed.


It feels like there’s genuine fear there

Many Americans are afraid of the real consequences in their minds for their bra strap showing, or for entering the wrong number on a form.

There are somewhere, some real drastic consequences for these mistakes. That’s what they’re afraid of. They don’t know that’s what they’re afraid of but they feel it.

I mean the consequence of your bra strap showing is …nothing, am I right?

But it sure does feel like you’re afraid of being beaten sometimes, doesn’t it? The feeling is like you’re afraid of imminent pain that never arrives. 

And don’t tell me that’s because your parents beat you up when you were a little kid if your bra strap showed.

I think those people who feel afraid of a mess can’t help it. At some point, someone somewhere was applying drastic consequences to someone for things like this– other when they did them or when you did them– and that created all this fear.

And there’s an obsession with symbolism because this same fear applies if you don’t get the symbolism right. 

But there is no symbolism– it’s just a trick vocabulary anyone can use to make you think anything is going on.

And it’s not a “You’re going to get spanked” kind of fear. It’s a “you could get killed” kind of fear.

I’m not trying to be dramatic, but they kill people for not doing their hair right in China during the cultural revolution.

Not because they cared so much about the hair, but because if you didn’t do your hair right it showed you weren’t drinking the Kool-Aid.

They wanted people focused in a certain direction– their direction, which was fussy and afraid. And they made them very very afraid.

And now that’s been exported to us somehow. We feel that fussiness and it makes us afraid.

I was trying to imagine what it would be like to live inside the head of a person who faces those consequences, and — it would be just unspeakable, right?

Like being in a science fiction movie in real life? With a war going on in their minds and everything is part of it, every movement that anyone makes, every sock that you choose to put on your foot.

And the consequences are desperate. All of this nonsense is very desperate and ultra important. A state of emergency, all the time. And that’s what they’re accustomed to.

Because they could have extreme consequences, even death if they aren’t seen as the right kind of person, if they don’t do the right thing at every moment if they don’t choose the right path.

But all of it is nonsense–very weird minor stuff, like choosing the right breakfast cereal because of what it says about you. Did you choose the breakfast cereal that everybody else is choosing? That the better people are choosing? So that you can be seen as the better people, so that you’ll be allowed to eat at all?

Because if people get the idea that you’re not really with it, you’re going to get left behind, which might mean no food, or physical punishment, or danger for your family.

But it is a violent society and if people don’t think well of you, they will hurt you and your family like they could change your life in dramatic ways. They could say well we’re not going to give you jobs, we’re not going to let you marry, we’re not going to help you in any of these ways.

And that process could start with something like a dress. That’s probably happened to many people.

But, as I’ve said many times, this is America, and we have all kinds of people here. If one person won’t give you a job somebody else will.

So there’s this dependence on a group, but the group is not trustworthy. There’s no safety net and no guarantee you’re going to be allowed to be okay, even if you make only a minor mistake.

So they’re navigating this very strange completely man-made imaginary world all the time –that’s their primary focus. Not the real world.

And that’s crippling emotionally. 

And that’s been exported to us.

It makes sense if you think about it. There was a tremendous amount of violence in Russia under Stalin and in China under Mao and it left a gash on the psyche of the entire world.

You don’t kill hundreds of thousands of people without everyone feeling it somehow. You put that fear into the world and it’s in the world now. It has to be processed, acknowledged, and cleaned up.

It’s not hard. You just have to relax as you slowly figure out that no one here is going to hurt you. Sanity is kind of like our brain’s natural equilibrium you know like we we tend towards the sanity we really want to be seen as human beings we keep moving that way no matter what happens to us

There are just a few crazy people, bad people, who are pretending to be a hegemony. 

It’s not real, especially not here. It’s mostly crap, lies and slight of hand bad people put out to make themselves look scarier and more powerful and tougher than they really are.

If they were that tough they wouldn’t need to put on that act. That sortof trucks rumbling sound–here come the trucks, coming to get you– that strikes fear in the heart of like every living being at this point.

People that talk by hissing and growling.

If you’re actually scary you wouldn’t need to do that. It’s like a show.

Somewhere there are a bunch of weasels behind a curtain.

I’m not trying to tell you to do anything. I’m just saying relax. Maybe relax and make friends.

Making friends is how you build a safety net. Be nice to people who are outside your social circle. Do favors for them. Help anybody who needs it– but don’t help them hurt people. Everything except for that.