Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Spring Cleaning Leaves Unfinished Business

So I actually did my spring cleaning. I moved furniture, washed walls and floors, and rearranged rooms. At first, I was tired; then exhilarated; and finally, disappointed. My house has a fresh feeling, but my situation is still the same. I still have highs and lows, still struggle to remember God and do what is right.

And part of me wanted to find this out. Often, when I am feeling stressed or depressed, I think, If only this place were clean and organized, I would be clear-headed enough to know exactly what I want to do, and to do it. Well, after my cleaning experience, I've decided that it was good to clean, but, like other quick fixes, it doesn't solve all of my problems.

Once again I am reminded that there is no such thing as the final hurdle, the solution to all my problems, because after one goal is met, there is still a whole life to be lived. And it can only be lived from moment to moment, trying to be present in even the most mundane tasks. As the spiritual writer Jack Kornfield puts it, "After the ecstasy, the laundry." Or in this case, after the laundry, finding the ecstasy in the challenge of life going on.

I received some good advice from a friend this past weekend. When she hears that negative voice in her head telling her she can't do something, she simply starts doing the very thing that part of her believes she can't do. She's had whole conversations with herself, listing the reasons why she can't do it, and when she's finished her list of why not, she finds that she's done it.

Whether it's cleaning or praying or eating healthy foods, part of us rebels and part of us knows what's good for us in each moment. Though I often like to theorize and weigh the pros and cons, set up a plan, and plan a time to start it, these strategies can hurt more than they help. Which is why I had to trick myself into writing this blog entry by ignoring the voice in my head that has been trying to plan it for the last two weeks.

It is also why I just had to stop planning and delaying and start spring cleaning, and thank God, I did it. But now that it's done, I can't drop out forever, can't stop listening to what I know I need to do now. It might be something completely different, but I can trust that I am where I need to be.

After I moved the bookcase in my office into its new position (the finishing touch of my spring cleaning), I got overwhelmed looking at all the books on the shelves: books on writing, notebooks full of unpublished stories, great novels written by other people. Tangible evidence that my life still had some unfinished business, even after cleaning (how can that be?!). Without fully analyzing what I was doing, I went to my jewelry box and found a silver pendant with the word Allah ("God" in Arabic) inscribed in it. I took a piece of ribbon and ran it through the pendant, then taped it above the bookcase. Life can be overwhelming, but for me there is one focal point; one to remember and to serve above all: God.

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