THE ART OF CLEANING

I don’t know how to clean the house so it doesn’t take me the whole day. ‘Just a little vacuum cleaning,’ I tell myself, and somehow the ‘little’ vacuum cleaning translates into dusting, mopping, polishing ALL the windows, and gardening.

I’ve had professional cleaners for 10 years, because they know how to clean in 2 hours. They understand ‘time is money’. But with the recent move I’ve given myself a chance to know the place. What does it need? For how long?

The hard floors don’t speak the same language that the tall windows do. The corners hiding dust and other want my attention, if they can sense I’m willing to give it. And I am. I also find that my Dyson isn’t helping, not with the ‘time is money’ program. My vacuum cleaner has its own energy. ‘You missed a spot,’ it says all the time, and of course I go back and fix it.

I’ve never tried professional cleaning myself. But I’ve watched the ones I’ve had during years. I often wondered if they ever talked to their helpers: The brooms, the hoovers, the mops, and the place they clean for. But all I could conclude was this: These people are professionals. They don’t get emotionally involved. They aren’t exactly interested in speaking to my silk rugs. They don’t beg for a magic carpet story. This is a shame, really, for my Persian rugs know great stories.

My professional cleaners would curse on occasion. I do too. So we have that in common. But cursing is not awareness, defying ‘time is money’. It’s just anger on the verge of becoming aggression.

Today I was competing with the neighbors across the road. They were into heavy-duty gardening. Since living in the country, I’ve noticed that Mondays are big cleaning days. They spotted me hanging upside down on the big windows. They nodded, even though my position could have called for suspicion.

But as far as they were concerned, if it’s Monday you clean. Who cares what you look like while you’re at it? It’s not like anyone would be impressed to know that you were a professional alpinist once, or a professional circus artist, or indeed, a professional housewife.

What they didn’t know, however, is that I didn’t clean because it’s Monday. I cleaned today because it’s the New Moon. So my cleaning had that consciousness present and alert. When I was done, I almost wanted to parade and let everyone know: ‘When I clean, my awareness is the enemy of ‘time is money’, my awareness kills the cultural conventions that say, ‘if it’s Monday, you clean.’ That’s not how it works. When you clean, it’s a ritual. You honor what is needed not what it costs.’ Such arrogance… I’m not very good at relaxing about these things.

But I do like to think that when I clean, I give the place what it needs. I talk to it, make a deal, and then stretch myself. I even allow for all my past lives to be present in the act, so I have just the energy for all of it, the tall windows included.

Now I sit with wine and incense. I stare. It’s the New Moon. I do nothing on the New Moon, also per my own instructions: Don’t do magic (unless you know exactly what you’re doing and why), and don’t get eager about your wishes and intentions and plans.  Let the day hover. Be content. Let magic come to you. Sink into darkness and disappear.

I wanted to ask the cards:

What is the wisdom of dissolving, or sinking into the night, or disappearing?

I should know the part of dissolving, what with being an expert at it. But still… The dark moon is for more contemplation.

The Pope offers a cautionary tale:

Beware of getting caught in routines. You’ll end up busted.

I thought to myself: ‘Thank god for shaking up the place. I wouldn’t want to clean the mainstream way. Not on New Moon day.’

The presence of the Magician had this to add:

All that lives, whether in the form of teachings, spiritual awakening, or devotion, eventually comes down. Implodes itself. What goes up goes down again. It’s the law. Sometimes the movement downwards is more loud, more dusty… Make sure your cleaning cabinet has all the tools in it you need. 

Yes sir. Cleaning tools? I could go professional in a snap. I have everything I need for this magic.

As the Moon sinks into the Sun, her powers lost, desires gone, I think of this, of being combust and eaten up by higher energies. Life moves on. Tomorrow I will be craving something new. I’m pretty sure of it…

Enjoy your moon and your magic.

Note on the cards:

Jean Noblet Marseille Tarot, as reconstructed by Jean-Claude Flornoy. Hand-painted by Edmund Zebrowsky.


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