As a kid, no three words could strike more fear in my heart than “It’s cleaning day”. My mother is the type of person who, when observing you in the middle of a leisure activity, will say, “Oh good, you’re not busy. Help me paint the dining room.” And just like that your day of watching Saved By The Bell reruns while eating potato chips is over. Naturally, cleaning day was Saturday, the only day my very busy mother had time to clean the house thoroughly. (And the one day that I had absolutely nothing to do)
I was almost always enlisted to help, whether I agreed to it or not.
It isn’t that I hate having a clean space. I’m fastidious when it comes to tidiness and order, and I like to be organized. However, I also like to rest, and I am willing to overlook a mountain of unfolded clothes if it means I get to sit down, drink a cup of tea, and read a book. (Always)
My mother doesn’t understand because she grew up during a time when kids were basically one step up from indentured servants. They were working to pay off the debt they caused by being born, I guess. She had a heavy workload as a child that included homework, and she works hard now because she has always worked hard.
Me? I was given three household duties that I did poorly until my mother intervened. I dusted all the wooden furniture (we had a lot of wooden furniture), cleaned the bathroom, and swept and mopped the floor. Every weekend I had to be reminded to do them, even though I did the same three jobs each week. The first few times I did them, my mother had to go over and clean them again. Taking the time to explain how she did what she did so I wouldn’t forget.
Needless to say, I soon learned what her standards were and adhered to them. As per usual, I found a life lesson in this. (Leave it to me to make connections between things that are totally unrelated)
When I turned thirty, I made a vow to “clean house”. Anything that was not useful or productive–relationships, habits, belongings, etc… was thrown out. Simplicity was my new buzzword, and anything that added chaos or complication was rejected.
The way I see it, there are already too many things that are out of my control without me adding new ones. If I hadn’t simplified my life, I would still be clinging to relationships that were not going anywhere, and hoarding possessions that I never use.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn wrote, “Own only what you can always carry with you: know languages, know countries, know people. Let your memory be your travel bag.”
By refusing to be encumbered by excess baggage, I’m free to do whatever God wills. Being weighed down by possessions only looks appealing. The truth is the more you own, the more you feel the need to protect. That’s why I have such admiration for people who are monetarily wealthy but live modest lives because they aren’t defined by what they have.
Having a clean house means that you always know what you have. There’s a place for everything and everything is in its place. If dirt accumulates in a clean house, you always know where it is because it stands out.
I would say the same goes for your life. So, whenever possible, live clean, pack light, and get rid of the dirt.
Live Well 🙂