As for me and my clutter, I feel like Sisyphus, that mythical Greek punished in the underworld. Instead of pushing that large boulder up the mountain day after day, only to watch it roll down from sheer weight, each day I peel the wet towels off the bathroom tile floor, gather the rest of the laundry into large baskets resting on my hips and bring it to the basement laundry room; while navigating around the snoring dog, neatly stacking the books, recycling the newspapers, magazines, and catalogs, stuffing the closets with the size twelve sneakers laying about, scooping up the tennis rackets, basketballs, and peanut butter cattle bones, while shifting the multiple guitars, glockenspiel and saxophone case to the edges of the room, somewhere near the piano. If it sounds as if we’re athletic, well-read musicians with unusual dining tastes, we are not; we’re just an active, somewhat average family of four—not including our black lab mutt (or “mix,” he’d probably prefer).
I divvied up the workload among my fellow occupants, but things simply did not get done in an acceptable time frame: like now. So, I shut my son’s bedroom door to not see the burglarized look of his room and continue each day doing the same exact things: rolling that boulder up the hill, emptying and refilling the dishwasher, lugging laundry up and down, digging a hole by the ocean gate, dusting the wood blinds. Housework, it’s the same thing. Over and over.
Sometimes I try to channel Hestia the goddess of Hearth and Home for inspiration, put a smile on, and clean with love in my heart, but it’s no use, I would always rather be doing something else.
My Saturday chores as a kid were to clean the bathrooms and dust the living room and dining room. The bathrooms became easier for me when I discovered I could drop two of my father’s denture tablets into the toilet while I scrubbed everything else, and in record time I’d be outside playing.
I briefly had a cleaning woman, every other week for about eight months and while she dusted and scrubbed, I did other things, like sorting through the papers in the desk, washing the wine glasses, reading the whole newspaper. I had to let her go when she could not accept our nutty new puppy’s slobbery proffers of love. When I found myself wasting those four precious hours walking the dog, I knew this made no sense, so I became the cleaning woman once again.
Unlike Thoreau—with his mother and sister cleaning and cooking so he could write—I must not “waste” anymore time on this essay, There is a load of forgotten wash fermenting in the machine, beds to be made, a tub to be scrubbed, a job to go to and a dog to be walked. There is also a stack of books on my nightstand, the newspaper on the kitchen table, and my daughter’s cupcakes to be baked. So today, I once again make a choice to live my life and leave the dust behind. I know it will be there in the morning. And the one after. You get the idea.