Spring Cleaning

“There came a time when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” – Anais Nin





As I watched the forsythia and cherry trees brighten and blossom this week (while staring out the window and procrastinating on the inevitable spring cleaning that I need to complete in my house — how is it that dust bunnies multiply like real bunnies do?), I realized what an invaluable gift spring is to all of us. Each season truly is. Maybe that’s why I never felt at home in San Francisco when I lived there.  The change of seasons is non-existent out west, at least as it’s known to us East Coasters.  There’s sunny. Rainy. Foggy. And that’s about it. There’s an occasional earthquake or two, but there isn’t a holiday attached to it, nor does one serve themed food when it happens.  Maybe that’s not a bad idea. I’ve gotta think about that. It should definitely involve Jello.


As each season ends and a new one begins, I find myself purging and storing. Not just physically, but mentally. Memories and beliefs. Realizations and lessons. Family experiences and individual achievements. 


I came across this quote today while I was reading about spring cleaning (again — procrastinating and not actually doing any physical cleaning — I’m a whiz at this). 


“One always has to know when a stage comes to an end. If we insist on staying longer than the necessary time, we lose the happiness and the meaning of the other stages we have to go through. Closing cycles, shutting doors, ending chapters – whatever name we give it, what matters is to leave in the past the moments of life that have finished. Did you lose your job? Has a loving relationship come to an end? Did you leave your parents’ house? Gone to live abroad? Has a long-lasting friendship ended all of a sudden? You can spend a long time wondering why this has happened. You can tell yourself you won’t take another step until you find out why certain things that were so important and so solid in your life have turned into dust, just like that. But such an attitude will be awfully stressing for everyone involved: your parents, your husband or wife, your friends, your children, your sister, everyone will be finishing chapters, turning over new leaves, getting on with life, and they will all feel bad seeing you at a standstill. None of us can be in the present and the past at the same time, not even when we try to understand the things that happen to us. What has passed will not return: we cannot for ever be children, late adolescents, sons that feel guilt or rancor towards our parents, lovers who day and night relive an affair with someone who has gone away and has not the least intention of coming back. Things pass, and the best we can do is to let them really go away. That is why it is so important (however painful it may be!) to destroy souvenirs, move, give lots of things away to orphanages, sell or donate the books you have at home. Everything in this visible world is a manifestation of the invisible world, of what is going on in our hearts – and getting rid of certain memories also means making some room for other memories to take their place. Let things go. Release them. Detach yourself from them. Nobody plays this life with marked cards, so sometimes we win and sometimes we lose. Do not expect anything in return, do not expect your efforts to be appreciated, your genius to be discovered, your love to be understood. Stop turning on your emotional television to watch the same program over and over again, the one that shows how much you suffered from a certain loss: that is only poisoning you, nothing else. Nothing is more dangerous than not accepting love relationships that are broken off, work that is promised but there is no starting date, decisions that are always put off waiting for the “ideal moment.” Before a new chapter is begun, the old one has to be finished: tell yourself that what has passed will never come back. Remember that there was a time when you could live without that thing or that person – nothing is irreplaceable, a habit is not a need. This may sound so obvious, it may even be difficult, but it is very important. Closing cycles. Not because of pride, incapacity or arrogance, but simply because that no longer fits your life. Shut the door, change the record, clean the house, shake off the dust.” — Paulo Coelho


I know I’ve been guilty of holding on to my children’s toys and baby accessories for far longer than they’ve needed them.  They’re been recalled, for heaven’s sakes. They’re no good to anybody.  It’s been painful and difficult for me to let go of that chapter of my life, to know that my children will never be tiny babies or squealing toddlers again.  But if I refused to let go of the dilapidated play kitchen in our basement, there would never be room for the ping-pong table that we’ve already enjoyed for many hours as a family this year.  Simple is as simple does.


Spring is a good time to assess your home and see what no longer fits, what’s worn out, what needs to be repaired, and what can be given away or discarded. But spring is also a good time to assess yourself. Who are you, today, in this very minute, and as a result of all the minutes that ticked before this one? What do you still hope to become? What weighs you down and no longer fits? What have you learned? Where have you failed? How did that change you? What is now possible because of it? 


Each season does that for me. I see the possibility before me — the moments and days there, in front of me, waiting to be grabbed and filled and lived.  I don’t grab them all, and I squander more than a few. Who doesn’t? But they’re still there, for all of us, if we can just shut the door, change the record, clean the house, shake off the dust, and make room for the possibility in our lives.


Welcome, Spring! Let’s go — I’m ready.












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