Inside Out

A few weeks ago I sat in on a brief lecture that was focused on personal growth. The analogy being used in the presentation was so simple and yet so perfect. The speaker was comparing us as humans to a rock. Then he held up a split and polished quartz amethyst geode (I had to look this up… I am far from being a gemologist or whatever the right term is). This is the kind of rock we have all seen in souvenir shops at the Any-town museum.


(photo credit: University of Texas)

He went further to explain that seeking personal growth is really like polishing the inner layers of our being. On the outside we still look the same, but personal improvement polishes our insides. Pretty interesting.

As the presentation proceeded, I thought of how this comparison is equally applicable to the act of organizing. The success of a truly good organizing system is dependent on the understanding of the user’s processes. Whenever one studies their behavior, truths are revealed. Therefore, any action that reveals truths about yourself can be considered self improvement, right?

It’s kind of an abstract trail. You start out trying to clean the front of your refrigerator and you end up contemplating the moment you took that picture of your sister helping your daughter fly a kite, then thinking about why that moment struck such a strong chord in your soul. And therefore, is that picture more valuable than the veterinarian’s business card, which is dueling with it for space on the Whirlpool.

When organizing (or designing), we are forced to give thought to importance, priority and value. Ironically, if you have ever taken a walk on a northern Michigan beach and you don’t apply the same thinking, you end up with about 1,043 rocks in your pocket that you just simply can’t live without.


5 thoughts on “Inside Out

  1. Some of these geodes are huge. They are so beautiful and impressive. The Museum of Natural History in New York redesigned their gem displays years ago. One seems to enter a velvet lined jewel box, with lights focused on spectacular rocks, crystals and gems. There’s a cave of crystals, too, like entering the interior of a geode.

    San Diego Museum of Natural History has a gorgeous malachite boulder, about 5 feet by 8 feet by 5 feet. Meteors at the Planetarium– Great.

    I don’t think the workshop leader’s metaphor could be carried far, but I agree with reminding ourselves that beauty and development occur in the interior of the person’s mind/soul.

    One should try not to compare one’s insides with other people’s apparent outsides.

  2. I love rocks, especially fossils and geodes. Geology is so fascinating. I really like that photo of the snow and the beach. I had to look twice before I decided it was a beach and then I read your explanation. Sometimes it is hard to believe that summer will ever arrive when you are in the midst of a brutal winter. Anyway, great photo!

  3. The collection of rocks reminds me that somewhere in our garage we still have a large tupperware box full of rocks our family collected over ten days in the Upper Peninsula last summer. We eagerly pursued the every elusive agate, all the while carefully placing the rocks from each stop into what were at the time tidy zip lock bags labeled for what was inside and where the rocks were collected.

    But alas, now that we are home, all these wonderful memories remain in their labeled bags inside the giant box we lugged for almost 2500 miles.

    In deference to your other blog about organizing the front of the refrigerator and all the memories that can prompt – our box of rocks is no less memorable – – and probably no less heavy than a refrigerator.

    I’m making a note to myself to place these rocks in our garden next summer where they will remind us daily of our family adventure north. At least there they won’t be occupying precious interior space…

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