Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Spring Cleaning

While we may not be able to control all that happens to us, we can control what happens inside us.

Benjamin Franklin
In a month it will be Spring. That traditionally means spring cleaning. Time to go through that box of letters you forgot to answer, are the taxes done and the other bits of paper work, go through the closet and get some things to the dry cleaners or to your local Salvation Army or Good Will. The vacuum cleaner needs to go into some of those corners you overlook when you do the vacuuming. When it gets warm enough you need to get into the garage and straighten up. As you go through your cleaning, rearranging and freshening up you will no doubt find things that you can live without, litter, unnecessary ballast, scraps of this and that you don't even remember receiving, burdens of responsibility you no longer feel the need to bear. It's a good time for awakening, for new beginnings and fresh starts. But there is another form of cleaning that needs to be done and not just in the Spring but all year, every day.

As human being we face one insurmountable obligation. It is to understand ourselves. We may avoid the task as much as we can but sooner or later certain circumstances of life will force us to face ourselves squarely and erectly in front of our own examining committee. Then it is time for the best kind of cleansing.

There will come a point in life's journey when an awakening will come, probably more than once, a startling question or series of questions we will ask of ourselves: Who am I and who am I not?

The human being is a very complex creature, a compound of ancestry, background, up bringing, family, education, environment, hopes, aspirations, failures, successes and thousands of other influences on us. If life is a puzzle, so are we.

When the great awakening starts you gradually realize and accept that some, perhaps many, of the thoughts you think are not your thoughts. Things you think you believe are things you don't really believe, knowledge you are sure of is not knowledge at all, things you fear are merely phantoms with no substance to them at all.

Then you may ask where these ideas, thoughts and phantoms come from. They may come from some other influence but if they are phantoms then it doesn't matter where they come from. They are trash. It's an amazing thing to realize that the thought I am thinking is not my thought. The idea I have been cherishing is not my idea and if I really faced myself squarely I would know it isn't really what I think or believe. And the most dangerous are those false ideas we have formed on our own, the messes we have made for ourselves and then claim as our own.

Worst of all is that those thought, ideas, fears and beliefs have an effect on us. They are parasites eating away at our happiness and the harmony of our lives, they are not just dust collecting in the corners or taking up space in the garage, they are viciously confusing us and making life a greater burden than it needs to be and masking from us our true selves.

If you bought a dozen apples and when you got home you found thirteen in the bag and one of them was full of worms, would you hold on to it because maybe it was one of those you paid for? Would you not send it immediately into the garbage? And then wouldn't you carefully examine the other twelve, and if you found another one with worms would you hold on to it because you know you paid for it? Wouldn't you rather trash it?

We should carefully examine, under the clear light of reason, all the thoughts we carry in the bag of our own thinking and quickly dispense with the wormy ones. Then we should go into the corners and closed up places of our minds and find the things that may have been there for years but need to be vacuumed up and thrown out.

It isn't easy, neither is spring cleaning, but no one ever claimed that understanding ourselves was easy. But the essential part of knowing who we are is knowing who we are not.

DB - The Vagabond

(This is not a contest)

What was the most significant event that happened in 2010?


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I await your answer.


Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

Excellent, I had not ever thought of taking spring cleaning to the personal level, but that sounds like a great idea.

Beth said...

Wonderful advice. I do try to take stock every once in a while, and if something is gnawing at me, I try to take the time to figure out what it is, and where it might be coming from. I think it's made me more self-aware and more in touch with my motivations.