The Best Laid Plans

Art Room

When, on a last-minute whim, I decided to take this holiday week off, I imagined myself immersed in all things creative.

I would write every day.

I would finish that poem. That short story. That novel.

I would spend hours in the art room.

I would read books—remember The Unread Book Project?

I would surround myself with notebooks and pens, colorful tubes of paint, empty journal pages and blank canvases.

But, as the poet Robert Burns once observed, “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley, an’ lea’e us naught but grief an’ pain, for promis’d joy!”*

Naught but grief and pain, and cleaning supplies, apparently, because instead of surrounding myself with the tools of creativity, I have taken it upon myself to do naught but clean.

Cleaning is my therapy. And something is demanding therapy.

Each morning I wake up with the gnawing I usually associate with a broken heart, a broken bank account or a broken deadline. There are none of those on the radar at the moment, but the gnawing persists. We’ve been tossing and turning together for days.

On Tuesday, after 48 hours of my best efforts to ignore and avoid, I sat quietly for a moment.

“What’s with the gnawing?” I asked in silence.

In the background, my busy brain went through a checklist—nope, nope, nope, nope.

“So, what’s with the gnawing?” I asked again in silence.

“Clean off your desk,” it responded.

In the background, my busy brain tried to find the connection.
Desk, gnawing. Desk, gnawing. Desk, gnawing.

“Clean off your desk,” I felt it again.

So, that’s where I am. In my office. On my week off. Cleaning my desk. Cleaning my desk, my file cabinets, my files, my closets, and anything else that is cluttered

with old stuff,

with stagnant stuff,

with stuff stuff

I can clean out

to make room for…

something new.

Cleaning Supplies

• • •

* The best laid schemes of mice and men oft go awry, and leave us nothing but grief and pain, for promised joy!

8 thoughts on “The Best Laid Plans

  1. Well, cleaning clutter is emptying your mind for the possiblity of all sorts of creativity….And organizing for a fresh beginning in the new year.

  2. Mom always made us clean the house from top to bottom the first week of the year. As a neat freak, I see value in this tradition. My house is really clean, for the first time since putting up holiday decor, and my spirit is ready to forge ahead into the coming year. I find it very refreshing.

  3. Your post, which is a good one, on the mark as usual, reminds me of a poem I once wrote along the same line…

    A New Year’s Promise

    It is tempting
    to believe,
    once the year
    is ended,
    once the page
    is turned, that
    we will move on
    to a new and more
    ordered life–and it
    will be different.
    For a while,
    you might think so.

    Happy cleaning, but do enjoy something else, too!
    Mary

  4. I find it quite healing to clear clutter, in that it creates emptiness and space for my brain to find what was hidden. But, maybe that is because I switch from slovenliness to obsessiveness. I think you did yourself a favor, Jen, and will be rewarded for your efforts!

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