Let it not be said that I am not capable of learning new tricks in my 50s. If there is a lesson to take away from this year’s Spring Cleaning it wold be: back-peddle first and ask all the questions before walking into to something hook line and sinker. The new and unfamiliar can be exciting, exhilarating, but also dangerous and poisonous – this applies to food, plants, and people.
The wardrobe has been sorted out, the old bottles and jars that piled up have been discarded, the items for the recycling bin have finally been disposed, and my piles of scarves and shawls finally landed in neat piles. It is all so disgustingly orderly around me now, that I wish I never accumulated so much in such a short time. I am one of the fortunate ones who had to face the unpleasant ordeal of mess management each time I moved to another country. This means that I don’t have an attic or a basement full of things dating back 20, 30 or 40 years to haunt me. I just have a couple of boxes from 2017 that I have still to unpack! I don’t think my home has ever been this clean, neat, organised or germ-free, but I have to ask the inevitable – what am I really trying to purge, the germs, the evil spirits, or my own demons?
Spring cleaning to nothing new, but Spring 2020 comes with a twist – there is an emotional and psychological cleaning and cleansing and that came along, a proper scrubbing down of certain notions and self-perceptions that demanded a closer look. Confinement has given me ample opportunity to re-evaluate some of my needs, emotions, behaviour, and question why I react to certain situations they way I do or why I fail to heed the alarm bells going off in my head.
In the same manner that the pandemic has forced us to give up many familiar things, recent events have also pushed me to take a good hard look in the mirror. These are strange, unconventional, and most certainly uncomfortable times. Putting myself first for my own safety is something I am not used to doing, having been raised with the words take of the others first, make sure everyone else is find before you address your own needs, feed the others first and you take the smallest and the least perfect one, if there is only one left then give it to the children, and so on. These family and cultural conventions were the values that I grew up with and held on to, until I realised that all these years I never learned to fight back, to distrust, to listen to the doubt, and to question.