Conversations For Transformation: Essays Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

Conversations For Transformation

Essays By Laurence Platt

Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

And More

Zen Of Cleaning:

Everything's Sparkling - Inside And Out

Cowboy Cottage, East Napa, California, USA

July 11, 2018

"If a thing is worth doing, it's worth doing slowly ... very  slowly." ... Gypsy Rose Lee

This essay, Zen Of Cleaning: Everything's Sparkling - Inside And Out, is the thirteenth in an open group on Zen: I am indebted to Sadie Francis who inspired this conversation.

You can learn a lot from surfaces - that is, if you're paying attention: both to the surfaces themselves, as well as to how you are  about cleaning them, especially the ones in your own home ie the ones over which you do have dominion. Surfaces are your touchpoints between you and the physical universe. They're the interfaces between you and the real world. The way you relate to surfaces (specially the way you tolerate their condition)  is a dead giveaway  of the way you relate to your life.

For example, how much dirt and grime accumulated on surfaces, are you willing to put up with? Even if it's patently clear to the naked eye which surfaces are in need of cleaning, how much procrastination of this inevitable task do you indulge yourself? What about the surfaces which are less accessible than others eg ceilings? How much additional effort are you willing to invest in getting them clean? And how much justifying are you willing to rationalize in order to ignore the build-up of crud, and live with it like that? Because the way you are about surfaces? The way you are about keeping them clean? That's the way you are about your entire life. Really.

Photography by Laurence Platt

Cowboy Cottage, East Napa, California, USA

10:08:05pm Monday October 17, 2016 Cowboy Cottage interior
Fighting dust in the Cowboy Cottage is, to be frank, a perpetually (and honorably) losing battle. That's a given. I keep up with it by doing a bit here, a bit there, a bit now, a bit then. But every once in a while, every few months or so, I'll engage an assistant to deep-clean its surfaces with me. She's great  at what she does, a world-champion cleaning lady.

But I don't leave her to do it alone. Secondarily that's because I want to be here to supervise the process ie I want to indicate for her where I'd like her to invest her energy and effort. Primarily it's simply because I enjoy participating in it.

When I called her to set a date, she asked me "What's your context  for the session Laurence?". Now, to be perfectly clear about this, those were not  her exact words. Most people I know, do not use words like those (true, many of them do, but most of them don't). Even though those are my words which I've substituted for what she actually asked, they do  recreate the exact sense  of what she asked. I didn't need any time to consider a response. I'd already formulated it: "Everything's sparkling - inside and out"  (those were  my exact words).

Here's how you turn the chore  of cleaning, into a priceless transformed Zen opportunity: when you're cleaning surfaces, notice (pay attention to) how you relate to the task of cleaning itself (that's just code for "how you relate to your life"). Are you doing it begrudgingly just to get through it so you can be somewhere else? ie you'd prefer to do anything but  this? If so, see if you can shift how you relate to the work of cleaning, from something you'd rather not be doing, to something worth doing (because it is), and more than that, something worth doing well, and worth doing completely.

Remember, how you relate to cleaning, is code for how you relate to your life: be  that it's worth doing well, that it's worth doing completely, and that there's nothing better to do  at this very moment. Look: while it may not always be obvious, there really is never anything better to do at this very moment than exactly what you're doing at this very moment. Do it slowly and thoroughly. Don't do it in order to git 'er done. Do it in order to do it slowly and thoroughly. In this way, getting surfaces sparkling clean, even when successful, carries no significance. The value of paying attention to getting the surfaces clean, is in transforming the way you do the work.

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