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Reading & Cleaning...

I have always been an avid reader. And I have always been a compulsive cleaner. Wait, maybe I have been an avid cleaner and a compulsive reader...doesn’t matter, I have been OCD about both.


They are both escapes. And as someone who has over-utilized the escape mechanisms in life, in fact, outworn many escape mechanism to the point of crossing a line in the proverbial sand, from which there is no return...these two persist. Like stubborn dandelions in a sea of green, perfect grass.

And these particular dandelions shall not be plucked. Because they provide life sustaining respite for me.

However, the older I get, the more I seem to read and the less I clean. Whatever it was that I wrested satisfaction from in my younger years with all the cleaning seems almost pointless to me now. It will just get dirty again and far sooner than I think it should or is possible.

So I tend to spend more time reading. I sat in the backyard on Sunday, lying in the September sun, reading for hours. It was so peaceful and tranquil. I cleaned on Saturday so my schedule was clear and everything was as much in order as one can have when one has too many cats, a dog and a teenager.

I was transported to other times, new versions of myself, older versions of me, thoughts and ideas that I did not have before I picked up that particular book. The only time I really go through a reading drought is when I can’t find something to read. Not because there aren’t millions of things to read, but because I have a delicate constitution and so care must be taken to ensure the purity of thought and spirit before I allow those images, engendered by the written word, to enter into my heart and mind.

While I could just pick up and read anything. I don’t.

I am reading now the Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance...again. I read it in 1987 for the first time and then was gifted it from a friend, more recently. It has significance to her, even though she has not been able to bring herself to ever read it. Passing it along to me was symbolic and a deep kind of love gesture. And so I honor that by re-reading the book, a wholly different person than I was when I read it at 17. So many years past. So many lifetimes.

I always seem to have at least two books going at a time, often three. An audible book, a fiction and a non-fiction. I can’t help myself so it seems. And while escape is still a goal in my world, reading has become more than that for me. Escape is the by product, not the intent.

And because I now spend so much time reading, I have less time for cleaning and I have declared that progress. My house is messier and dirtier than it has ever been but I am mentally more healthy than I have ever been. Those deep wounds that required cleaning supplication, healed, and healing.

And so I have to believe that perhaps cleaning is a neurotic reaction, an avenue to deal with unhealed trauma...and perhaps reading is the resulting healthy behavior supplanting all that free floating anxiousness of my youth, and all that cleaning.

I will not ever live in filth or clutter. I am sure my home is cleaner than most on any day. But the compulsion for perfection has passed and in its wake, time has opened up to read...and so I do. Sometimes the best indicia of healing is the ability to spend your time lounging in relaxed positions, doing absolutely nothing but reading.

Perhaps, my new mantra...

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