Mess is robust and adaptable...as opposed to brittle, like a parent’s rigid schedule that doesn’t allow for a small child’s wool-gathering or balkiness. Mess is complete, in that it embraces all sorts of random elements. Mess tells a story: you can learn a lot about people from their detritus, whereas neat — well, neat is a closed book. Neat has no narrative and no personality (as any cover of Real Simple magazine will demonstrate). Mess is also natural, as Mr. Freedman and Mr. Abrahamson point out, and a real time-saver. “It takes extra effort to neaten up a system,” they write. “Things don’t generally neaten themselves.”I used to think that one day I would be more organized, more neat (and therefore more "grown up"), but I have pretty much resigned myself to the fact that that's not going to happen.
I am a fan of entropy. I like to see how things unfold, evolve (sometimes devolve) over time. I remember my Physics for Poets professor said that entropy is very powerful because it's the way of nature--things fall apart, then find a new sort of order. It's the whole cycle of creation and destruction. "That's why it's so hard to keep your room neat," he told the class. "You have to work against entropy. It's a losing battle." I prefer working with entropy. It's much more interesting and comfortable (and it definitely saves time.) Not that I live (or want to) in squalor and filth--I just don't mind a cozy jumble. Every once in a while, I get self-conscious about clutter--especially if someone shows up at my house unannounced--but the feeling tends to pass pretty quickly.
I know some people who find cleaning to be meditative, relaxing, empowering. And that's wonderful for them. It's like with writing--everyone has to find their own best process, their own path to bliss. It's so individual. And I know my own personal path to bliss (and health) doesn't require a feather duster.