by Trudy Boyle
Is it possible that one of the reasons we create clutter is because we find it hard to say no? We keep saying yes to more stuff, which in turn creates too much dust and ultimately demands too much of our time to look after it all and eventually goes unnoticed and unused. Even when we have a small space, like me, we can easily fill it up.
Same with our mental habits. Over time we create habits that don’t serve us. We can eat too much junk food; spend too many hours on Netflix; develop the habit of complaining, or believe life is “too much trouble” or I am a victim and I have no talent.
Then along comes spring, with her delightful array of colors, hundreds of shades of green, warm winds, sunny days, rain, and longer evenings. The side effects of all this beauty are excess energy, exuberance, falling in love, dancing in the streets, taking risks, planting our gardens, beaming our smiles wherever we go, and cleaning our homes, garage, and cars.
We call it spring fever. The compulsive need to enjoy our life, treat each other well, cultivate hope, turn our dreams and ideas into action, and spruce up our lives.
Spring cleaning doesn’t even sound like a chore. More like liberation from unwanted stuff. As a child, we found the cleaning of our rooms before Easter surprisingly satisfying. A fresh backdrop to our new Easter finery.
Take dust itself. A few months ago, I wrote about my experience with dusting, on my blog.
I was invited to participate in an unusual exercise during an online seminar and to exercise my dusting muscles. The instruction was to mindfully dust something in the room where I was working. I had an amazing experience with the dusting itself. I chose a sideboard in my study that contains several items that I love to look at. As I glance over at it now, I see the love of friends gracing this space.
As I picked up each item to dust, I thought of my friend K who painted me a red boat against a beautiful sun, the day I had my mastectomy. A small collection of Buddhas of assorted sizes, from various parts of the world, each one carefully chosen by four different friends. A longed-for gong that was a Christmas gift, decades ago. A small gold box from Japan from my friend S and a lovely Japanese Calligraphy from P… Not one item did I buy myself. Each item represents a gift, lovingly made and/or purchased that was given to me by a dear friend or family member.
As I dusted each item and looked closely, remembering when I was given that particular gift, it stimulated such a wave of love and gratitude that at that moment, dusting transformed from a chore to a privilege. Simple gratitude.
Spring is my defining moment. This is when I take myself in hand and use the magic of spring fever to propel me into action. Not to beat myself up but to re-evaluate: what needs to go; what needs to be refurbished and what needs to be added? Not just the exterior of my life but also the interior. It is such an old-fashioned and utilitarian habit – Spring Cleaning – that still holds traction for me in 2022.
Awe and the Ordinary
By now many of you know I am in awe of ordinary, everyday life. Because that’s where we spend most of our time. I have never liked dusting, vacuuming and what I think of as mundane household chores. But springtime is different. And mindful dusting has changed everything. It is amazing what can happen when we shift our attention from the notion of chores to the reality of privilege: I am alive, and able to do what it takes to care for my surroundings. And even that I have surroundings to care for, thanks to so many people. How lucky is that!
May you enjoy your Springtime.
Warm wishes, Trudy