“Out of the strain of the doing, into the peace of the done.” ~Julia Louis Woodruff
I’m wiped out. Normally I am wiped out because I get in a good workout or take a hot yoga class or become mentally exhausted dealing with my kids. Today, however, I am bushed because I cleaned my house. I mean, really cleaned it. In an attempt to get some monkeys off my back, I finally took care of things that had been bothering me for months. I vacuumed behind furniture. I dusted wood blinds. I hand-washed floors. I cleaned baseboards. I wiped off the spindles on the staircase. I was a woman possessed. As I crossed items off my mental checklist, I felt myself getting lighter and lighter as the monkeys became fewer and fewer.
As I was doing all these things, I reflected on why I go so long in between these tasks. Why do I let the monkeys pile up? I decided it all comes down to choices. It’s as if I have some unwritten mental hierarchy of things I detest. When I’m faced with two different options, my brain will consistently choose the task I’ve determined to be less despicable, even if the margin between the two choices is barely perceptible. Walk the dog or clean the bathroom? Walk the dog. Clean the bathroom or wash the floors? Clean the bathroom. Wash the floors or dust the blinds. Wash the floors. This same pattern holds true of personal chores. I’d rather pay the bills than schedule a dental appointment, but I’d rather wash my car than pay the bills. Things I hold the greatest disdain for wait the longest for my attention.
In the end, though, my intense hatred for the monkeys wins out. Eventually, whatever it is I’ve been avoiding will weigh me down until I feel it will flatten me. When I reach my limit, I flip a switch and go into a manic state, and I start tossing monkeys. That’s what happened to me today. My opportunity to snowshoe drizzled away while I scrubbed the shower floor. The chance to hit my yoga mat for an hour zipped by while my vacuum and I attacked stairs and sucked up cobwebs. Before I knew it, the entire day was over. And, for once, I did have something to show for it. My house is so clean right now I’m afraid that when my sister visits on Friday she’ll ask me if we’ve hired a cleaning service. I’m also afraid that my husband will now recognize that I am capable of cleaning and getting a tasty, well-balanced meal on the table; I fear he might begin to expect this on a regular basis. (Good luck to him if that’s the case.)
The most amazing thing happens when I truly apply myself and give something all my attention. I find I can accomplish a lot and accomplish it with great success. Okay. So I didn’t get in an official workout today, and I skipped my shower. It’s all good. It was all worth it. As I sit here writing this, I feel peaceful and about 10 monkeys lighter as I look around my dustless, dog-hair free, neat bedroom. Okay. Maybe it is just exhaustion and not peace, but I’ll take it. Look out, monkeys. Now that I remember how relatively pain-free it is to get rid of you, you might just have to find another host to carry you around.