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Busted Halo
feature: entertainment & lifestyle
February 19th, 2004

The Order of the Day

Or, How I Cleaned My Way to Cosmic Harmony

 
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I’d been cleaning for weeks. It started the week before Thanksgiving; I had nine coming for Thanksgiving dinner and was damned if I didn’t have a clean and organized apartment (or at least living room) to show off to my family and friends. So I cleaned and cleaned and having met my goal of a tidy living room, I found myself still cleaning.

And loving it.

I was liberated with every bag of garbage tossed. An organized closet became a cause of celebration. To the dust bunnies hidden in dark corners for years, I was the Terminatrix with a vacuum hose.

I could feel the newfound vitality rushing through my body. First one corner then another, then a whole room. I couldn’t sleep after the bedroom was done; I alternated between counting sheep and sitting up in bed looking at the newly emptied and cleaned corners and proclaiming, “I’m so happy!” to the empty room.

Make the outside like the inside
The supreme joy of all this is because I’m really a super-organized anal retentive trapped in the habits of a messie. Things got lost, bills went unpaid, and the cats puked in my laundry. It wasn’t a pretty scene, and I knew it wasn’t the real me.

Then one day, while sifting through the pile of papers covering my desk, I found this scribbled on the back of an envelope, “We all crave order, and, in the Book of Job, hell is described as a place where no order is.” This was a quote from Dorothy Day’s The Long Loneliness, though I didn’t know it at the time.

Wow. I knew things were bad, but that put it in a totally different light.

Cosmic, dude
I started thinking about order and disorder on a cosmic scale. I rolled the words “chaos” and “entropy” over my tongue, and tasted their dazzling potential. I tried the same for “order” and “harmony” but the words fell flat—like a clean room that begged to be muddied.

But then I considered the orderly nature of the natural world in things like cellular structure, DNA, and inner peace—versus chaotic events of our time like war, terrorism, and my living quarters.

I started to devour Home Comforts, a modern and exhaustive volume on “home keeping,” and books on feng shui, which assured me that my need to clutter stems from a lack of nurturing in my life. (Personally, I thought it was more a lack of space in my small apartment, coupled with a busy life and lack of time.) Whatever it was, it finally clicked, and I was crazed with the need to clean.

Now as I look around my home, I see the order and feel the peace that comes with it. I’m an Energizer bunny with a dust rag and the daily experience of an uncluttered and dust-eradicated home. And it’s truly a heavenly one.

 
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The Author : Elizabeth Bonwich
Elizabeth Bonwich writes from New York City.
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