Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Cleaning, A Pleasure?

The best things are nearest:
breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at you feet, duties at your hand, the path of God just before you. Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life's plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things of life.

Robert Louis Stevenson (1888), poet

Actually, Mr. Stevenson, life's daily duties can be sweet only if they are loaded with meaning. The meaning may be small, such as a commitment to cleaning out the tiniest speck of dust from the corner bookshelf because one enjoys being attentive to detail, or grander, such as staying up late to edit one more page of a first novel you think will change the world.

No meaning; no sweetness. No meaning; no beauty, or art, or reason for life. So regardless of whether one is cleaning out the bathtub or cutting a documentary film on epidemiological diseases in Africa, one's daily duties will be sweet if they serve a larger purpose. The difficult part is, there is no clear path to meaning. Each person finds it on their own. It is rarely clear or "just before you".

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