Meditation On Dust. And Dusting.

I have always had a somewhat cordial relationship with housework. Except for brief periods when our twins were small, I have always done my own cleaning.  At this stage, all that bending and stretching is, you know, a good thing.  Cheap exercise, I tell myself.

And I don’t mind most aspects of keeping house. I can watch my beloved British dramas while ironing. I hover over the laundry a little, two rinses so there is NO residual perfumey detergent smell.  With a system, cleaning bathrooms is cinchy. Vacuuming is a bit of a bore, but it goes quickly and, for crying out loud, a machine does the real work.

But dusting?

It is the reason conscientious homemakers may come to dread sunlight in a room.  Its beams act like a magnifying glass undermining one’s best efforts. It is sneaky and subversive. It doesn’t lie quietly on a normally shiny surface. No. It shouts, “Inattention!  Sloth!”

All housework is, to some degree, a lesson in the degeneration of the earth.  Man is flawed and unclean, the earth is flawed and – well, it’s pretty much dirt. Naturally, it ends up in the house. I have decided, upon serious reflection, that one of the chief purposes of dusting is to remind us of mortality.  And the fact that I used the words “serious reflection” and “dusting” in the same sentence reveals the deleterious effect it has had upon my psyche.

But back to mortality.  Dust is, after all, fine particulate matter composed of dirt and skin and fabric floating around and landing on virtually every surface. In fact, due to the wonders of science, we now know that dust is not just annoying, it has friends, friends so hideous they belong in the “What was God thinking?” category.

Vacuum your mattress and take the gleanings down to your neighborhood science lab and see what shows up under the microscope.  It’ll make you want to pave your mattress AND your pillows.

Dust is tangible evidence of the slow decay of the planet and everything on it.  Including us.  It’s the only household chore where you might suddenly ponder:  “Oh, look, there’s me in 500 years.”  But there is one beneficial effect:  it’s a surefire cure for knickknacks. If it has to be dusted, I can live without it.

What’s your least favorite household chore, and why?  No, you may not vote “All of the above”:

a) Dusting

b) Vacuuming

c) Cleaning bathrooms

d) Cleaning the kitchen

e) Laundry

f) Ironing


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