To Move or Not To Move; That is the Question

durvishPracticing the art of not moving things is a challenge. Out for the morning one Saturday, I come home to a piled pair of people on the sofa. Noon, it is, and one is reading, the other researching.

Walking in, I notice, birdseed, dust, and wood chips, on the floor. Couches are covered in games, books, and pillows; no place to sit.

Resorting to the kitchen to cook lunch. I vow not to move or wipe anything. My vow is impossible. All the stove burners are piled with pots.

Exiting the kitchen, a yellow clump catches my eye. Stooping to investigate, I learn it’s butter. Committed to my rule, even if it gets mashed onto the bottom of someone’s shoe, I leave it.

Daily I wonder what would happen if I stopped picking up, cleaning, clearing, wiping, replacing, and reminding about all of the above. Would someone else do it? And if I find out it doesn’t get done, then what?

But here’s a better question. Does it need to?

Sadly, or perhaps happily, all of this mess has always been here, and until recently, I’ve been spinning myself into a frenzy trying to keep up with it. All of the swirling to see how many plates I can throw and keep in the air, tossing them higher and collecting more with each trick, so that I’m juggling first three, then eight, then 10, then 20, or more — is me, a dervish, twirling.

But not in a pretty, sequined colorful Turkish skirt. Instead, and unfortunately, it’s a “Watch me. I’ll do it all. I’ll make the house orderly and then we will feel settled and happy, and we will live this way.”

But we won’t. Because all of the mess is activity. It’s life, and it’s here to stay.

The real work is for me to stop cleaning and clearing. Make and leave more messiness.

The cleaning and clearing of other’s things, and the self-assigned task of reminding them to, are avoiding life. I’ve got things to do, and need to step to.

Got a cleaning or clearing task you don’t need (or want) to do? Got something more meaningful and important to create?






5 thoughts on “To Move or Not To Move; That is the Question

  1. Flora Parisky

    So interesting, engaging. Is the butter still on the floor? Are you able to keep doing something else?

  2. Liz

    so, so hard. What *is* the meaning of life? Is it making a comfortable, nurturing place for our children? What about when they don’t want that anymore, or don’t contribute, or work against it? Is it learning and learning new things? Is it *doing* stuff. I honestly don’t know.

  3. Karen

    My grandma always said, “you could die with a broom in your hand,” meaning there’s always something you could be doing around the house. Make sure you’re spending time on what matters, she advised. At our house, we are high on the “Conscientiousness” realm – we put things away as we use them. We don’t think about it too much. It’s part of how we are. I advise people who are naturally less conscientious to make it fun and for everyone. Set the timer for 15 minutes on Sunday and – quick! – see how much you can put away and straighten up. The whole family running around leads to smiles and giggles and you can end up with at least one room pretty orderly! You also might be interested in “Snoop: What Your Stuff Says About You” by Sam Gosling. He “snoops” into people’s homes as a way to describe the Big 5 personality traits (Openness to Experience, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism). It’s fascinating!

Comments are closed.