Dust if you must, but wouldn’t it be better
To paint a picture or write a letter
Bake a cake or plant a seed
Ponder the difference between want and need.
Dust if you must, but there’s not much time
With rivers to swim and mountains to climb
Music to hear and books to read
Friends to cherish and life to lead.
Dust if you must, but the world’s out there
With the sun in your eyes, the wind in your hair
A flutter of snow, a shower of rain
This day will not come around again.
Dust if you must, but bear in mind
Old age will come and it’s not kind
And when you go, and go you must
You, yourself, will make more dust.
From an article by Felicity Loughrey appearing in Vogue Australia August 2007 edition, called “A clean sweep. There’s an art to cleaning and keeping house, but its secrets have been lost in our more feminist times. Just ask your mother.”
“As professional women, we have to live with a greater tolerance level of dirt and mess. It’s just not possible to do what we do and keep the kind of house that our mothers and grandmothers might have expected.”
I don’t mind a bit of dust. In fact, as someone who suffers from instant sneezing the minute the dust is moved, I prefer to leave it where it is and vacuum it up when necessary. This has been my habit for decades. This is what I call living with nature. I must disagree with the quote, however, as I would have thought one benefit of being a well-paid professional is that you could afford to have cleaners come in regularly, particularly when there are two of you earning good incomes and/or you have children, when the mess definitely would be triple the normal level. I’ve known plenty of people in that situation and who had weekly or fortnightly cleaners; it became a routine de rigeuer. But, then, as an ex-professional, that is just my point of view.
Dirt + mess often can also be a signal to being in an unhappy emotional state. As the saying goes, the state of your house is an indicator to the state of your mind, whether a sign of lack of self-respect or whether you’re just going through a period of depression, which is something I can certainly relate to. After the depression has lifted, the need to clean is overwhelming and it’s very gratifying to see the place clean again! Definitely!
So, as I was reading the poem, I did think it was a great ode to not being so obsessive about house cleaning and to be more kind and gentle on yourself; life is much too short to be worried about a little dust, children, depression and all! Dust if you must, but, then, maybe not! As I don’t have an image of dust to add to this post (‘though I’m sure it would have made an intriguing abstract image), here is something a little more interesting.