Wednesday, October 2, 2013

192. Spring Cleaning is Lifting Your Tent Up

It's May, and you're sitting in your pajamas, watching television. You're holding a cup of coffee and settling into your Saturday morning. It's been a hard work week, and you really just want to relax. 

Suddenly: the unthinkable happens. A Home Depot commercial comes on TV. Or maybe it's a cleaning product commercial, or a commercial featuring an ethnically diverse yet attractive group of neighbors mowing their lawns and high-fiving. You shift uncomfortably in the couch, glancing around and trying to shake the creeping feeling of spring cleaning

You try to sink into the couch and duck under the encroaching cloud of guilty feelings. You try not to focus on anything too carefully in the apartment or house, but you can't help it. You are inundated with a flood of to-dos that have been hovering just outside your peripheral brainspace. Your mind goes through a shot-by-shot run-through of all of the things in your home that have become filthy; each image is like a gristly crime scene photo, exaggerated to horrifying proportions in your mind. Each thing leads to the next, making you painfully aware that as soon as you start the spring cleaning process, your entire weekend is going to be shot. Maybe even multiple weekends. 

You curse yourself silently. Why do I need so many THINGS?! You demand an answer of yourself, but no answer comes. You decide that this year, finally, you're going to just throw everything away and live in an empty skeleton house where all the walls are made of poured concrete and the only cleaning you'll ever have to do is to drag the hose inside and spray everything down with water. But already you know that's not feasible. You have that one friend with the iron will-power who has been able to become a minimalist, but you're just not that way. You know that if you threw everything away, you'd just buy it all, all over again, wasting so much money and grief in the process. 

Nope. You're just going to have to clean.

You leap to your feet, looking for something, anything to convince yourself that it's not really all that bad. It can't possibly be that much cleaning, right? Seized with inspiration, you grab the corner of the couch you'd been sitting on and drag it away from the wall. It's a mistake. You gasp audibly as your eyes are assaulted by an onslaught of visual monstrosities. Dust bunnies the size of real bunnies roll around, clinging to half-built lego pirate ships, a long-forgotten dinner plate with god-knows-what congealed on it, 17 different cap-less pens, the dog leash you've been trying to find for 6 months, and enough loose change to fund your next 25 trips to the laundromat. 

It doesn't matter if you live in a 1-bedroom apartment or a huge mansion: things just accumulate. It's okay. Some of us are like big, featherless magpies, nesting anywhere that we spend more than a day. Even if we try desperately to clean up after ourselves, we don't spend all of our waking moments trying to keep things perfectly clean. We're more human than that.

But when you're a long distance hiker, you simply never have the ability to accumulate, and cleaning is like a dream come true.

You wake up in the morning in your tent, yawning and stretching out against the soft comfort of your sleeping pad, blinking against the sun that's streaming in and bathing you from all directions. You go through your routine of packing up all of the things inside your tent; stuffing your sleeping bag, putting on your hiking clothes, flicking slugs off of the outside of your tent by thwacking them from inside, sending them hurtling away to go slime all over something else.

After climbing out and pulling everything out into a pile to be organized into your pack, you notice that a fair amount of dirt and leaves have gotten into your tent. You put your hands on your hips, staring at all of that freeloading nature. You're a hiker! Even a half an ounce extra of dirt to carry makes a difference. 

But out here, you don't need a vacuum. You don't need a broom. You follow these simple steps:

1. Open the front door of your tent all the way
2. Pull up the tent stakes (put them away immediately otherwise you'll lose them)
3. Stand at the front of your tent (still fully assembled), grasp the poles, and lift the tent straight up into the air

All of the dirt, dust and pine needles come flying out of the opening at the front of your tent, fluttering down to rejoin the earth. In 20 seconds, your entire home goes from dirty to clean. Gone are the days of hours of vigorous scouring and scrubbing, until one day when you go back to living in the regular world. Then you'll spend a lot of time day-dreaming about being able to just pick up your entire house and shake it out.

Clever Girl

1 comment:

  1. Ahhh, shaking your house clean. What a concept! I like it!!