It’s one of those Sundays that I chose to keep the TV off and skip the concentration of news shows I used to watch religiously. You know the ones: Meet the Press, This Week, Sunday Morning, etc. It’s been a wretched end of summer, both here and abroad, for millions of people. If it isn’t people treating other people badly, it’s violence from Mother Nature, and I’m starting to wonder if there isn’t some kind of cosmic causal connection in that. So I’m taking the day off.
When some people take a day off, they go somewhere or do something that sounds like something you do when you take a day off. The beach. The mountains. The Arboretum. When I take a day off, I clean and organize. I put things away, and find places for things that are in the way (but that I want to have handy). I chase the dust into a corner and suck it up with the vacuum. I wipe off smudges and fingerprints and generally spruce things up. I also usually end up moving things around that feel like they’ve been in the same place too long. There’s a metaphor in there somewhere. I’ll let you know if I find it.
Not the whole house, mind you. I’m not a straight-up lunatic. Just a room or two. Yesterday it was a former bedroom, now becoming a music room with drums and strings and digeridoos. Today it’s my bedroom and the “breakfast nook.”
I don’t know about you, but my bedroom is always the last room in the house to be cleaned. It occurs to me that this isn’t very self-loving.
The “breakfast nook” is another problem. It has become our impromptu temporary storage area for the ongoing Goodwill collection as well as stuff we haven’t quite figured out where exactly it’s going to go although we have a general idea (a box of camper supplies and a pile of electronics cabling). Also the things we don’t have a clue what we’re going to do with (a somewhat antique oil burning heater that’s quite cute but doesn’t go anywhere and a sewing machine that doesn’t have a “place” yet).
Quotidian clutter. We collect stuff. We accumulate stuff. Stuff appears. I am spending the day asking myself essential questions: How does this serve me? Is it something I use or that someone else can benefit more from? Is it beautiful and does it bring me joy or is it something I feel obligated to keep? The Goodwill collection will undoubtedly grow larger today, as will the trash.
For me, it is a moving meditation. Those questions go beyond the stuff I am handling and help me be open to seeing my behaviors and habits, my relationships, and the way I spend my time. Is this serving me?
It’s fall. It’s time to turn off the AC, open the windows, and air things out.