|Picasso's Doves from the Las Meninas collection|
It has been such an achievement cleaning the entire house. If anyone asks me how long it takes to clean a house which hasn't received a proper spring clean for about five years, the answer is 11 days. Yep, 11 days. And that does not mean and ENTIRE clean either. It is a cleaned house and structure to work with. It is now no longer feeling overwhelmed and miserable. And the best part of it all is the feeling of having taken control of the environment. It is of knowing exactly what is where and why it is there.
I did a lot of throwing away. I also did a lot of rearranging. Much of the rearrangement was in light of future cleaning, not just hiding things. The underbed storage is gone so i can get at the dust bunnies. I have created spaces so that i can move furniture to hoover behind. I have also hung pictures and repositioned things.
One of the many things i have discovered is that cleaning is VERY hard work. It is like doing hard labour. Seriously. I did not clean all day - i could not have. I cleaned for about five hours a day. They were five very long hours, usually from about 10 to 3. With a break for lunch. Then i would take the rest of the day off. Sometimes i resume cleaning, especially towards the end of the 11 days, around five and keep at it until dinner time.
I did not no unscathed. I have a torn calf muscle from it. I was standing up too quickly from a squatting position and i heard my leg pop. Yep. It popped. I thought, and felt - ow!!!! And then i thought, i have a cramp, and then i realised very quickly it was not a cramp. For about a day i hobbled and then it felt better after a day. Then this morning i tried to get the bins out and then it went again. So torn calf muscle: recovers quickly, but you cannot put any strain on it whatsoever for the next two to six weeks, depending on how badly it has been torn.
Yesterday i was in great pain because it went again, and i was convinced that it would be like that for a few days, but now it is ok. It is not stiff and sore anymore, just a dull ache, but it is something i must be very careful about over the next two weeks at least, as it recovers.
So, the other thing i discovered is that i have lived the life i had meant to live. A life, not free from cares nor worry, but a life which has been rich and meaningful, and full of experiences and learning. A life which is full of love. It has been an authentic life. A real life. A life which is not filled with what ifs? What if i had done this instead of that. I am very grateful to all the people who have enabled it. From my sons, to my parents, to my friends. My many loves. My health. My sense of adventure. My desire and wish to learn. To appear idiotic. To make mistakes. Probably more than anyone's fair share. But also to then say, my learning comes with practical experience.
I love not being right all the time. I also do love being right all the time. It is a paradox. I cannot explain it. I think it is because I have made so many mistakes, my sense of what is right is quite good. It is like, if you get lost enough of times, you will learn how to read the stars.
I looked at my library which needs to be slowly broken up. It needs to slowly be given away because i just have too many books. But it also made me very proud to have been to those places and read these things. Some books i know i will reread before giving them away, like making love to a lover for the last time before you part. To say goodbye. To imprint them on yourself. Other books, i will just give away without reading because you know, they are now completely a part of me. Yet others, i know i will not be able to part with. Some others i will read for the first time, or maybe not at all. When it is all done i don't know what I will be left with.
It seems a bit of a metaphor for my life. When i was in my 20s and 30s it was all about accumulating. Accumulating books, experiences, being busy - and now it is about letting things go. It is a bit like reliving my life again, but this time from the point of having lived it already before. I am so grateful that I have lived a full life, because I can look back on it and go, wow that is a real life, isn't it? It is a pleasure to revisit. It is true, time is like space, you can go back to those places and relive the experiences.
I have also discovered that i do not need to buy most things any more. I have enough stationery and clothes and pots and pans and crockery and cutlery to last me forever. They may not all match but they are now there. They are now there for me to use until the end of time and probably pass on to my children if they would have something so battered. My pans and cooking pots are well seasoned. I have enough dishcloths and tea towels to last forever. Piles and piles of these. I need to buy food and shoes, of course. But if i start to fit back into my old clothes, well, seriously, i will not need to buy anything for a very very long time. And it won't take an awful lot to fit back into them either. Just a few months of discipline.
So, a life worth looking back on and not having to buy things anymore. This is a very good outcome of the cleaning up.
The other thing, which i have mentioned before is, knowing how to organise things now. To give everything a place and a sensible place. I now know how to cook properly, thanks to the mice. When I say cook properly i mean how to clean up as i cook. I did not know how to do this previously. These mice have been great. Steiner says that animals are the agents of angels. They are the way angels' act on Earth because they don't have a direct agency. Plants are the agents of archangels and crystals are the agents of archai. I will always believe that my angel was acting in these mice. Always. If they had not come along at the time which they did, i would not have had this review of my life.
It has been very tiring, but also very calming going through the house in my own time. Being given the luxury of this time. While i was cleaning Ghin's room today, i was looking at the Doves by Picasso which he had bought from the Picasso Museum in Barcelona. For the first time i understood how they were part of the Las Meninas series. The colours which Picasso had distilled and then the birds which held the same poses as the subjects of Velasquez's painting. The two doves in the middle, the Infanta and her handmaiden. The painter on the side, in the dark birds. The other two, the remaining subjects. And the refraction of the room in the landscape behind them. I understood that, i saw that for the first time.
So, these things all the time.
The other thing I have realised is that i have never failed to act because i was afraid. Never. If i have failed to act it was because i chose not to act. I have never found any reason for not doing something if you believed it was necessary, unless you choose not to do it. And i have never not done anything because i was afraid. Never. I don't know if this counts as courage because i actually don't feel any fear, or at least i am not aware of it. No one can intimidate me into not doing things. In fact, if they try to, it only makes things worse. Especially if i think that the thing needs to be done.
I am not saying i was right all the time, all i am saying is that i never not acted out of fear.
I wonder if people who do live their lives governed by fear end up looking back and regretting it or justifying their behaviour to themselves. Like when i was watching 66, the figures of authority at that time trying to cling on to their narrative, saying well, we like had no choice. You know, blah blah blah. I think these people are utterly self serving. Anyone with a modicum of morality and some understanding of history must know why the situation had evolved and known that it could not continue indefinitely. It really makes me sick that people cling onto the status quo for the sake of clinging onto it, because they do not want to be the ones to say, ah, well, we lost Northern Ireland. Not on their watch, as if that was something great. To have countless innocent lives be destroyed through injury or death because of their fucking pride. It makes me so angry to think of it.
We cannot admit that we are wrong, so we will flog the dead horse. AGAIN. Even though we know it will never come to life.
I don't know if i will ever do this kind of cleaning, or need to do this kind of cleaning, again because now that i have organised the house so that i know exactly where everything needs to go and what it needs to do. I know exactly how to clean around and under it. I have arranged things so that they are easy to clean. And also, oddly enough, i am also not afraid of cleaning anymore either.
But i have done it now and i know what it takes.
So now, it remains for me to start a new life. It feels like a sort of new beginning. I can't explain it. Like a massive burden has been lifted from me. I can now get on with the rest of my life. And oddly, while i am looking back, I am also looking forward - layers upon layers upon layers. Mysteries of mysteries. The more I live life, the more I love it. And the more I love it, the more I feel, i can also let it be.