My house is filled with light. You can see every dust speck. From early morning light, especially on sunny days, the light streams across the dark wooden floors, glistens off the countertops, and pierces into the crevasses. It all shows the detritus of human living; strands of hair; bits of lint; fingerprints; footprints; and every tiny crumb. Good thing I have no wall to wall carpet; the cleaning would never be as frequent! A good thing my home does not face in the opposite direction, for with the sun at my back I should be living in my own shadows most of the time, where the dirt easily lurks. But no, with so much light in my face, and beaming down upon and into my domicile, I am impelled almost constantly to be cleaning. Or should I just relax?
Our houses are actually a frequent mess. Disenfranchised bits lurk everywhere. We fragment at the seams. We drop and discard and disuse. We purchase anew and abuse. We take things for granted. We waste. We store and stack and supplant. And we arrange our knick-knacks in a sensibility of placement and preference unique to ourselves. And yet we all are much the same. We all have a-this and a-that. Even in our histories. (At least, the most generally privileged among us do: Our richness of materialism can hardly be compared to the disenfranchised, can hardly be compared to the critical mass of those without means, without substance, without the necessary articulation in one's own language, or similarity of skin tones sufficient for our own comparative compassion.) Huh?
Black lives matter. Blue lives matter. Gay lives matter. All lives matter! Yet we are hardly hurt when the wave hits "over there," when it is not our own daughter, son, relative or Race made a victim of circumstance. If I tell you a friend died, or my parent, or my colleague or my dog died, you yourself may sympathize with me, because you know me. If you know the person who died you would empathize even more. And what if the person was someone on your side of the family? What if it was your pet? What matters most is that with which we, "I", most identify.
Dirt and mess and spots are the fertilizer of our pasts. We have learned from our mistakes. And we cannot but help continue to make a mess, to produce dirt, and to create spots. Our inner and outer houses are more than the individual domicile of our spirits; they are the vehicles of our corporeal and collective passage. The deepest of the divisions occurs in the collective; we cluster in racial and religious and cultural and political communes, and we point out and discuss the dirt in each other's houses with an egregious contempt. Dirt's in the idiosyncratic idiolect of the idolatrous and iconoclastic. It's in our intensity of interpretation, indirect in its very directness; it is in the living paradox of presumptions and preference built into walls around us that become the places we live in. Our physical face and our habitual muscles and our interior plumbing and our emotional attachments and our mind-bending concepts and our spiritual-spirals take on not only our persona, but become our character. And in our houses (especially since the more carefully we look, the more the light reveals,) we become more and more aware of the ongoing amount of cleaning up we can do, we have yet to do, and will be doing tomorrow too.
"A life unexamined is hardly worth living," Socrates purports. Elemental enlightenment would reveal the unclear, the turgid, the scabs and scars and bad spots. Enlightenment going beyond the elementary begs yet more anxiety. The more light, the more we see yet to do. Yet there also is, with the unrelenting clarity of day by day, a growing consciousness that one can clean, but not be attached to cleaning. That's elemental. One can love without being needy. That's elemental. One can care without wanting reward. One can give without the recipient knowing. One can clear away the detritus and the debris without anyone noticing. All that is elemental too. (It is in our allowing for a consistent flow of "letting go" that living is not quite so elementary.) Yet in the light of our day, as well as in the dark of our sleep, we can continue to scrub away at our past, individually and even more significantly, collectively, now, and in all our tomorrows to do. So... Now to relax, yet still to do!