Spring cleaning in the traditional sense reminds me of my husband’s late aunt. We still call tasks such as dusting the light bulbs and cleaning the screens in the faucets “Aunt Da tasks.” I usually manage to clean the temptation to go to such lengths out of my mind. I do find, however, that this ancient seasonal force, the overwhelming urge for spring cleaning, is impossible to resist completely.
I know a young single mom who is moving out of her grandfather’s house and into her own apartment this week. I leaped at the chance to offer her a few pieces of furniture that are crowding my house, and I just spent the morning gathering up more of my clutter which may be useful to her. I have mixed feelings about offering her my castoffs, since my motives are mostly selfish, but I remember the kindness of neighbors–total strangers–who helped me furnish my first apartment in Chicago. I still have some of those things, which they were probably just as happy to give away.
I offered her my computer desk, since I’m converting from desktop to laptop. Of course this necessitates an excavation; how many unfinished projects are lurking in those chaotic piles or deep within drawers? How many can I toss? How many paper clips can I possibly use in a lifetime? Will I ever look again at the 2004 calendar of French phrases? Wait, here’s a useful one: “J’aimerais faire une promenade en forêt.” Thoreau is calling me to Walden, and the spring wildflowers wait for no one.
I’m also in the mood to spring clean my schedule. I’m writing at home this morning instead of driving 20 miles each way to a writing class. I cancelled a music rehearsal next Monday, since I have other rehearsals scheduled all weekend. My Wednesday night meditation group is soothing, but I find that I’m a bit relieved to notice that I can’t make any of the April meetings. When the adult education class I have been teaching for the past year on the Transcendentalists ended this month, I emphatically declined to co-lead the next class. I’m sure that Margaret Fuller, who gave up teaching to write, would understand.
It’s also a good time to spring clean my thoughts. I’m burnt out on analyzing my past and worrying about my future. I’ll clean out my wardrobe, buy clothes that fit my body as it is, and learn to express my evolving personality. I need to sweep self-pity out the door as well. I was recently grumping around about at the thought of getting on yet another airplane to visit my mother in Sedona. I happened to click on a website with a pop-up ad: “Win a free trip for two to Sedona!” How lucky I am to have a warm welcome waiting for me in such a magical place.
In Chaucer’s time the New Year was celebrated at the spring equinox. Many cultures still have that tradition–so much more pleasant than our modern ritual of going on a strict diet in gloomy January. I’ll take joy in my spring cleaning, send my castoffs to a better home, and take advantage of yet another opportunity for a fresh start.