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Cleaning Out the Old

“Krishna insisted on outer cleanliness and inner cleansing. Clean clothes and clean minds are an ideal combination.” –Sri Guru Granth Sahib

Yesterday it was cleaning time at my house. Not just routine cleaning, mind you, but deep, gut-the-house-and-start-anew type of cleaning. My kids have by now probably disowned me as a mother on charges of slavery of minors, but I am quite satisfied with the results and close to being done.

The crazy compulsion began the other day, when I thought about the benefits of starting the new year on clean slate. I paid all my bills the day before, went to the bank and to the grocery store, and mentally prepared for the Herculean task ahead. It’s almost crazy how my house feels small when I look for storage space or I bump into one of the kids every time I turn, but when it’s time to seriously clean, it suddenly becomes a mansion ready to swallow me alive.

After multiple cups of motivating morning coffee, I slipped into my drill sergeant clothes and yelled the kids out of their beds. Before they could complain, I dropped the supplies and their lists in front of their bedrooms, and ran up to get started on the upper floors. My goal was to focus on each room and begin by cleaning out cabinets, drawers and closets before I detail-cleaned the rooms themselves.

By the time I was done with the first two rooms I had three large bags of garbage…where on earth was all that stuff hiding before?? It is quite amazing how much we accumulate over the years, and how invisible it becomes to us once it has been there for a while, most of it hidden out of sight in drawers and closets. Getting rid of it was a bitter-sweet experience. Some of those things were tied to nice moments in the past, so I toyed with them for a little while, undecided if I should keep them or let them go. Some of the objects I picked up didn’t have any particular meaning, and I found it mind-boggling that I had even kept them for so long.

When all was said and done—almost done, I should say, since the kitchen is still unchecked on the list—I had fifteen large bags of trash and five bags of good items to take to Goodwill. The house felt much lighter and ready to welcome the dynamic energy of the New Year, and I felt just as light. We often hold on to what we no longer need, without thinking how much the extra weight holds us back from moving forward. Whether we remain attached to something because it is connected to a pleasant memory or to a painful one, or even if it is something that we stored for no particular reason, at some point it is time to let it go; no matter how important it was in the past, it has no consciousness in the present or future.

Everything has a season. Once it’s passed, it is time to open the doors to something new.