Incessantly seeking. Endlessly restless. Always planning and scheming. What for?
I am forever trying to manipulate my house and my personal behaviors to make less housework to keep. I am forever trying to let go of expectations and self-created problems. I am forever asking “is this necessary?” when I look over my lists. Seemingly my desire is to have very little “must do” and a lot of “spare time”. Searching for my paradise.
When is it all enough?
I am reading a travelogue of a fellow who went off to a very remote island in the South Pacific. It is a second such I have gotten my hands on written in the past few years. It echoes so much of what I have read by Michener and Mytinger. James Michener wrote of the less than romantic islands riddled with death and disease and insanity. Mytinger wrote of the natives of Melanesia between the world wars. It too echoes Michener’s tales of despair and adventure. I read over again the Trader Vic Cookbook that covers the Pacific, Mexico and Texas. I love Texas being included in the exotic text of cookery.
The Hawai’ian Islands and French Polynesia are certainly lovely and have the possibilities of evoking the feeling of having found paradise. Hawaii is beyond lovely and the climate is divine. These are not really included in the materials I gravitate toward.
What is so appealing to me about these tales of the tougher parts of the Pacific? Perhaps the definite challenge of survival and tales of adventure. Perhaps the stripped down lifestyle. Perhaps the freedom from societal restraints. Perhaps only the vivid blues I envision when reading them. Who knows for sure? Do I even need a reason? Always trying to figure out why I think or feel whatever it is going round in my head.
I certainly over-examine many issues. Remunerate. Chew the cud. Stew. I do get a lot done sometimes just to get past thinking about it. Then, I find some new topic on which to stew.
If I lived on one of the islands I read about, I would probably go stir crazy. He has helped me create a little haven like one I might erect were I to be cast adrift in the Pacific. Sitting out here writing with the wind and the bird song, I am in my own paradise. My jungle plants provide visual texture. The bright aqua bench evokes the tropical waters. I will add images to this haven to increase the mood of escape.
I do enjoy escape from the nine to five, the television blaring, the claustrophobic feeling of central air living with the drawn drapes and darkened rooms. And yet another part of my paradise is a bathtub full of clean, hot water to soak chin deep. A room cooled by that very same central air with a comfortable, dry, bug free bed in which to snuggle. Satellite services bringing my television and internet connection to the rest of the world at my fingertips. Too much food available to eat at any moment. Him somewhere on the acreage or piled up in his chair.
I don’t have ocean waves rolling and crashing outside my window. I don’t have the smell of salt air or the scream of seagulls assailing my senses. I don’t have sores festering from the bacteria that thrive in the equatorial band around the globe. Tsunamis and storm surges don’t threaten my world. Yes. I would certainly love to visit the tropical places of my dreams. I have seen some of it. But, I will continue to appreciate my little bit of paradise he has helped me create right here in my own back yard. For today, it is enough. No need to search beyond the front gate, today.
Now don’t get yourself worked up about animal cruelty. It is only an expression. Granny Sally and Mother used to call a certain kind of house cleaning washing the cat out with dash. There was a washing detergent called Dash. I don’t know if it is still made or not.
To wash the cat out with dash means to really deep clean the house. Not spring cleaning exactly, but still very thorough. It seems I used to be able to do it in half a day. The entire house would be dusted, vacuumed, mopped. The bathrooms scoured, the kitchen shiny, the washing done up.
Today(Saturday), I got some cleaning done. The house looks good. The floors and kitchen are done. The wash is clean. But, I have more to do.
Even when the children were small, it didn’t seem to take so long. Of course, I was home full time and twenty-something years old. Many things got taken care of as I went along. I could get busy and get the shine on pretty quickly.
Also, I had a room separate from the rest of the house that held projects and stored sewing and crafting supplies and equipment. I had a small shed to house a lot of boxes of stuff as well.
In this house, I have eight closets, generous pantry shelves, large bathroom cabinets. I also have an attic that holds quite a bit. I fret over them having things in them that may not need to be there. What if I have too many Christmas decorations? What if I have too many purses in storage? What if I have too many never to be used arts and crafts supplies and tools? As I look around my home, I wonder do I have too many decorative items? Too much furniture? I don’t even want to think about my overflowing bookcase. Books are precious to me. I love books. Nook can’t replace the tactile experience of paper and ink books.
I am trying to break the thought process that leads to the fretting. Whose business is it anyway? As long as he doesn’t mind, and I like the way it is, who else matters? What hovers in the dark memory of my past that makes my mind go off on that path? I think I know what it is. When I was young, not yet a teenager, an elderly man made a comment to me that hurt my feelings in a way that I still stings sometimes. He criticized me for allowing my room to be a mess. My mother was never one to force the room cleaning issue. She might mention it and then just close my door so she didn’t see the mess when she went past.
When I became a homemaker, the nagging feeling of shame haunted me. I think that is why I have never allowed personal things to sit on tables. Books, notebooks, nail file, a bottle of polish, pens, markers, lotion, those types of things, I don’t allow myself to leave sitting in the public areas of my home. The bathroom counter is always free of bottles, combs, hair bands. A soap dispenser or dish with soap is all that I allow. Kitchen counters are as clear as I can make them without too much inconvenience. No canister sets, toaster, bread box, etc. sit on the counters. Even in my bedroom there are no collections of toiletries or stacks of magazines. Our bedroom has a lot of furniture and most of my treasures, relics and trinkets. Even those are boxed up and put away when I feel suffocated by them.
Less is more for me. Less stuff to clean and clean around means more time and energy to play and to laze around daydreaming. Two of my favorite things to do. Although, I do love to get busy and wash the cat out with dash some days. That freshness of a washed up house is wonderfully relaxing. That sense of accomplishment silences a ghost voice I am still trying to banish. I like doing it just for the joy it gives me.
A huge almost empty room. Natural light illuminating everything. Sumptuous bed. Beautiful plant or flower. Great book to read. Cup of steaming black coffee. Sounds like paradise to me. How do I get there?