Thursday, July 29, 2010

cleanliness: next to ... ??

it seems to me my blog posts for july have been rather self-indulgent.
but, hey - it's a blog. self-indulgence is the nature of the beast, yes?

& july is my birthmonth, so i tend toward hyper-reflectiveness [oooo, shiny!],
pondering just where i am, how i am, who i am,
as another number clicks by.

but, before july is over, i'd like to offer a little insight
into a challenge all of us face at one time or another:


recently read a whole living article
about making peace with the daily drudge of cleaning.

some thought-provoking thoughts on
taking a different approach to
scrubbing toilets, washing dishes, folding laundry,
[these are a few of my unfavoritest things] etc.

"what if i were able to slow down & treat housework as if it mattered? i'm thinking of that zen proverb: 'before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. after enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.' the idea is that we should find meaning in ordinary tasks, because true clarity is fleeting enough - & when it's over, somebody still has to clean the crisper.

"'there is no meaning in chores. the expectation of meaning is what robs life of greater meaning. ... when we expect things to be more than they are, or when we value them as less than they are, that keeps us at arm's length from our own life,' [author karen maezen] miller says. 'when we're really present in every moment, even when we're vacuuming, we can begin to chip away at the feeling of inadequacy. and little by little, our lives are transformed. ... here's the magic soap,' she says. '
your own attention is what spiritualizes things. attention to the meal you cook, the clothes you wash. attention is love. and that's transformative.'

"i'll never love it, but i can say this: cleaning changes things.
so much in life is uncertain - you take vitamins & get sick, love people who disappoint you, pour your heart into a job & lose it at the end of the fiscal year. but if you take a rag to a piece of soap scum, it will go away. from that point of view - the pure continuum of cause & effect - cleaning stops seeming futile."

& begins to seem - dare i type it? - spiritual?

image source:


marciferous said...

I love this - really, I am going to save it to help motivate me! Cleaning is one of those things I have to be forced to do. But when you view it this way... well, just, wow. Thank you!

Susan K. Morrow said...

Fantastic! I'm sharing it with my grown daughters, who care even less for cleaning than I do. I hope they get the much-deeper meaning.