Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The Cleaning War

Benjamin Franklin once said that the only certain things in this life are death and taxes. His statement is true but insufficient. He forgot to mention that the house will always need to be cleaned. So we have three sure things: death, taxes and the constant accumulation of dirt.
Cleaning is the never-ending chore. Clean the floors and less than twenty-four hours later there will be no trace of being swept in sight. And don't even get me started on the bathroom mirror. That sheet of glass becomes smudged and spotted with splatters faster than I can rip a paper towel off the roll. The cycle of spray, wipe and polish will continue until the other, final inevitability comes about: death.
This endless cleaning cycle used to frustrate me. I considered cleaning my Hundred Years' War. In that saga England couldn't gain control of France for a hundred years. In my saga I couldn't gain control of the filth, dust, grim, smudges and dirt. Like England versus France both sides in my domestic battle brought allies. I came with all-purpose cleaner, a roll (or two) of Viva paper towels, scrubbing brushes and a vacuum cleaner. My opponent, the dirt, rallied the support of the dogs, cat and God who stepped up to arm the dirt with pollen, dust and a vast array of sticky substances. Let's face it, victory was never mine.
The dirt-war reality used to be a cause of consternation for me. I would sigh when, twenty minutes after cleaning the stainless steel door of the fridge, new fingerprints had emerged. Defeat was inevitable. Cleaning felt futile.
Until MS.
Yes, a sickness transformed my outlook on cleaning. What was once a chore is now a purpose. When my body won't cooperate and I am house-bound, feeling utterly useless, I look at the dirty fridge and see a mission. No matter how miserable I feel I can always clean something - anything. It's all dirty. It's all begging to be cleaned. Even if it is just a counter top or folding a load of laundry. Somewhere in my house there is a mess and if I quiet my sorrowful, floundering mind for just a moment I can hear it calling my name.
In the dirt I've found a calling to be fulfilled. I've discovered a war being waged that could use a soldier.
In so many ways MS has left me sidelined. I can't travel the way I used to. I can't work like I want to. In the evenings, when others are heading out for a night on the town, I'm preparing to crawl into bed. In the mornings when others start their day recharged and refreshed I am searching my body for the energy and motivation to face the next twelve hours.
When my mind starts racing with all of my "can'ts" I feel overwhelmed and defeated. But when I stop and think about what I can do I see dirt and I get to cleaning.
The purpose and meaning in my day may not extend past a clean fridge that only stays shiny and sticky-free for a few hours but I conquered a feat, I won a battle. By joining the cleaning brigade I've escaped the pity-party and defeatist outlook that held me hostage. I've accomplished something with my spray-bottle and sponges.
The hundred years dirt war rages on, so bring it on messy house. I'll be back for the bathroom mirror tomorrow.

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