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Shot Of The Day

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The Third Type of Person

“There are only two types of people in the world Kat,” she said in her colorful native Brooklyn tongue while dramatically waiving two fingers close to the edge of my nose. Donna Goldberg, author of The Organized Student, was entertaining a group of us before her evening lecture. We were riveted by her intuitive knowledge and the humility she exuded as she disclosed the painful events that led to her passion for organization. But it was this two-types-of people sentence that took a table of disconnected one on one conversations and brought it to rapt attention and near silence. We waited for the punchline as she held hostage the dramatic pause long enough for us to consider a possible ransom. The logical options flew through my mind. Optimists and pessimists? Extroverts and introverts? Winners and losers? Leaders and followers? Salty snackers and sweetie snackers? None of these seemed to fit the Queen of Organization. Turns out, the answer was not one I ever overtly considered. I say overtly, because it was one of those truths that once you heard it, you realized you knew the concept all along but nobody ever gave it a label. When she said it, the file cabinet in my brain moved a whole folder of stuff from miscellaneous-I-don’t-know-where-this-fits, to wow, this has an identity. The moment she said it, she was like Adam in the garden of Eden naming something animalistic and instinctive that heretofore was just a real thing with no name. With deliberate NY charm, she finally released the pause that was prisoner to her drama. “Some of us are keepers Kat, and the rest of us are tossers.” I almost choked on my shi-shi Ahi Tuna Salad when she said it because I knew exactly what she meant. I instantly knew I was a keeper. Nobody told me I was a keeper. But I knew it and I’ve known it my whole life. The note my mom left under my pillow when she knew I needed a surprise. The first daisy Spencer ever gave me. The ID bracelet my son wore home from the hospital. I keep. I have a need to keep. I am a keeper. It pains me to toss. But not my husband. He tosses. “If you haven’t worn it in a year,” he says with authority, “toss it.” If it isn’t nailed down when he’s in one of his clearance moods, it’s gone. “Throw it the hell out” he chants, mimicking his father Barney, the King of Toss. As he rolls the garbage to the curb, I plan to sneak out later and rummage through his toss just in case he grabbed some of my keeps. Tossers are infamous for feeling superior to keepers and “helping them” to heal by tossing some of their stuff. Keepers are infamous for imposing their values on tossers and keeping things “for them” that they are sure should be valuable to them. And while the titles were great and all, the identity of the players was simply the appetizer to a most delicious main course. I don’t remember the exact words, but they went something like this: “And you know the irony in it all? Both tossers and keepers are doing the exact same thing. They are both avoiding making a decision. The keeper avoids deciding what to let go of. And the tosser avoids deciding what to hold on to. Neither is superior. Both are broken!” OK. Pause with me a second. Is that not just one of the most insightful things you’ve ever heard? I felt like someone opened a portal to the universe that I had no idea existed and now I had the freedom to walk as far down that new corridor of thought as I wished. So I’ve been chewing on this since Wednesday and, as He always does, God has been shedding his beautiful light on this Edenesque naming. I started to think of marriages. How many people I know who are married to their opposite. How many toss/keep pairs must there be in the universe? Two by two we walk through life both avoiding but both being forced to sort because our nemesis won’t let us avoid. She wants to know why you tossed it and he wants to know why you feel compelled to keep it and in the process a whole lot of sorting is going on. Marriage forces the sorting process. It brings us to that divine clash where we have to consider what’s really important. What’s really going on. What’s really worth holding on to. I watch marriages fall apart all the time because tossers would rather toss the keeper/spouse than stand and sort out the mess. And keepers would rather hold every hurt the tosser throws her way than sort through forgiveness and healing. Neither is right. Both are unhealthy. No doubt, sorting is hard work. But it is exactly where the jewels of life lie. Standing in the midst of a fallen and broken world and separating truth from lies, good from evil, divine from earthly. Organization is in the sorting. God is in the sorting. I certainly reach for Him when I stop avoiding and start the hard work of sorting. So Donna Goldberg, the Queen of Organization, thank you for opening that beautiful portal for all of us to explore. May we all become that third type of person — the sorter!

Posted: 6 February 2012