Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Spring-Cleaning Outside In

I don't know about you, but this "economic crisis / change of season / time to prepare the taxes / lull in my career" is doing me good. In fact, I'm enjoying it. (I have to immediately interrupt myself with a quick caveat or two, though: First, hunger hasn't set in yet, and hopefully it won't. Second, I have nothing but brotherly concern for the people who are suffering real hurt. I wish I could make things better for them.)

But, for me, it can't be denied. This Spring feels fresher than any I can remember in personal history. The stakes feel higher, but the chances feel greater. We've gotta clean up. And the best place to start is in your own sphere. And as I've got nothing better to do, that's pretty much what makes up my daily To Do list.

It all started with the crisis. No work. OK, so use the time otherwise. That's the point of freelancing, right? (I mean, if you're going to angst your way through workless periods it's not a career path you should choose.)

Then, the season changed. The cloud lifted, the sun decided to shine and shine and shine—all as if to say, "Whatever happens, bigger forces at work, and guess what? Sometimes they're benevolent." But it was also an inevitable reminder of the overriding existence of Cycles. That helped a lot. Things will "come back." They always do. 

Then, tax-time rolled around. Not my favorite time of the year, but somehow very, very cathartic. There's no way to do it without digging out the boxes, confronting the detritus collected over another 365 days. Organizing. Categorizing. Editing. Totaling-up. Fessing up. It feels good. And it leads, like a pebble tossed in the water, to ripples and every larger ripples of Putting Things in Order.

Once the receipts were harvested, the copies made, the signatures illegibly placed on the appropriate lines, we moved to closets. Storage rooms. The garage. Things are neatening. Lifting. The mass of stuff we've accumulated as a family (three generations) in the past years, was all sorted through this week. And most was given to charity. Sifting through it was sobering. "We. Bought. All. This. (?)" Yes, we did. It was not nice to face up to, but it's the first step in realizing that, no, it doesn't all need to be replaced. And, no, you don't have to have "new" stuff. And, wow, somehow it all has more value—real value—when there's much, much less of it. 

And what happens to me when I start yanking out the hidden stuff, organizing the socks, giving to charity—cleaning? Things in my head start moving around too, reordering themselves. With every "thing" that is dealt with, there's a bit of gray matter that gets dealt with too. The Inbox of my e-mail demands a good cleaning out, but so do the drawers of my soul. Fears, interpersonal "messes," bad habits—they all require the same measured "dealing with." And as a result, I start feeling lighter inside, as if so much more were possible. And as the literal clutter is removed, so is the clutter in my head. There's a clearing. And inside this clearing, I feel both safe and sound and strangely content. I also feel something inside me soar, that was too weighted down before. 

So even though there's no work coming in, there're still bills to pay, and the world hangs in the balance, here in my growing clean spot, I feel that I just might be able to dream my way out of this one.  So much more seems possible, because so much more light can get in.


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