Do your thoughts ever hijack your brain when you are doing some menial task? This happens to me sometimes when I am cleaning or driving or painting (walls, not masterpieces!). My mind gets stuck on things I would rather not think about. Here are some of the ideas that ran loose in my brain last time I cleaned my house.
A while ago, I read on someone’s blog, “I choose the misery presented to me.” The day I read that post, I had recently learned that a friend’s 23-year-old son is not expected to recover from leukemia. I had recently learned that a member of my own family has stage 4 cancer. I couldn’t comprehend the blogger's statement. Maybe she did not mean it the way it came across to me – it was part of a post justifying her own life choices – but it struck me as horribly insensitive and has bothered me ever since. There were lots of comments on her post, most of which supported her point of view – you choose to accept the yoke of hardship God has placed on you, blah, blah, blah. I agree that we all choose how we respond to events, we are responsible for our attitudes, but to say a mother watching her son die is choosing her misery, to say a man who loses his job and can’t find another chooses his misery, to say a person who died in the fire of the World Trade Center chose his misery, I just can’t comprehend that.
It reminded me of another nonsensical statement. When my husband and I were first married, we lived in a third floor walk-up condo in a Chicago six flat. Our across-the-hall neighbors had been married longer than we had and were parents to an adorable little girl named Anne. I’ve forgotten the general conversation topic, but one day the wife said to my husband, “You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do.” My husband had the same reaction to this that I had to the misery statement. Disbelief. I only wish I didn’t have to do anything I didn’t want to do. I didn’t want to go out in the rain today, but I did. I never want to clean toilets, but unfortunately I have to. But since we’re choosing our misery, I guess you could say I choose the misery of cleaning toilets over the misery of dirty toilets. After all, I want a clean toilet, so I want to do the cleaning, right? No. I think most of us feel we do lots of things we don’t really want to do, but they have to be done. I should point out that the couple across the hall got divorced less than a year later.
Whenever someone states one of these out-in-space worldviews, it reminds me of one of my favorite movie lines of all time: “I don’t believe in gravity.” – Chrissie, played by Hollis McLaren, in “Atlantic City” (1980).
|Shed? Who, me?|
This brings me to dust. So as I was cleaning, I was thinking about misery, doing what you want, and gravity. You can see how these three ideas relate to dust. And I wondered, why does dust exist? We dust our furniture, our light fixtures, only to have the dust reappear, as if by magic, in a week or so. Where does that dust come from? We clean our sinks, then people spit toothpaste in them or rinse a plate covered in tomato sauce. That dirt makes sense. We vacuum our floors, then people walk on them with dirty shoes and pets shed (copiously in Alfie’s case) on them. That dirt makes sense. We wash our clothes, then we kneel in the garden or work up a sweat. That dirt makes sense. Dust makes no sense. Repetitively cleaning something we haven’t used or often even touched. Yet it must be done, at least occasionally. Before holidays or visits from mothers-in-law, for example. Dusting – I choose the misery of dusting because I want to do it, and I have to do it because of gravity. That is my deep revelation for today.