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Janice Wells: Karmic cleaning

Don’t like sweeping the house? Maybe it’s your karma.
Don’t like sweeping the house? Maybe it’s your karma.

A definition of Karma in Hinduism and Buddhism is “the sum of a person’s actions in this and previous states of existence, viewed as deciding their fate in future existences.”

I take this to mean that my current state of existence was decided by previous existences over which I had no control. Therefore it is not my fault that I don’t like housework and is, in fact, bad karma when I make myself do it.

That is not to say that I don’t mind a messy, dirty house. I do. The only thing I mind more is cleaning it, but I do try, to the extent that my karma allows it.

For example, on the theory that a new broom sweeps clean I decided that if I had a new broom maybe my kitchen floor would be cleaner. Of course, even I knew better than to think that the broom would do it all by itself, but I do enjoy whimsical fantasies.

I decided maybe an old-fashioned broom with straws like my mother used might improve my karma. In fact, it made my karma worse because Newman didn’t like it, ergo didn’t use it.

So, determined as I was to resist my karma, off I went again and got the same red-angled one with the dustpan that fits in the handle that we’d had before. Except when I got home, there was no dustpan. It must have come off in the shopping cart, so of course back I went, (flew, says Newman ha ha) with the broom, to get the dustpan I had bought and paid for.

Except I hadn’t.

I had bought the broom model without the dustpan. Who knew there was such a thing?

I happened to be out with Daughter #2 that day and when I got home, left the new broom and dustpan in her car. I still don’t have it.

Carelessness? Forgetfulness? I think not.

Karma.

I am not meant to sweep the floor. In a previous life, maybe something bad happened to me with a broom. Maybe I crashed, says Newman. Ha ha.

The problem is I actually like sweeping much more than I like vacuuming. It’s the noise. I hate it. Why that is I really don’t know, but it is obviously something to do with karma.

Right up there with vacuuming is cleaning up after meals, the preparing of which also drives me because it never ends.

It reminds me of Daughter #1 asking me to read her a story when #2 was an infant. “I can’t right now” I said, “I’m feeding the baby.”

“Every day you have to feed that baby!” she replied with all the indignation a four-year-old could muster.

I think about that more and more as my enjoyment of cooking becomes less and less although “every day I have to cook” has become “every day I have to figure out how to eat with the least possible effort.”

I used to be known as a good cook, honest to God, and every now and then that person rears her grey head, but I can safely say I was never known as a good housekeeper.

When we get some fine weather, forget it. If I know company is coming I go around like a white tornado for a couple of hours and then apologize for the state of the house the minute they walk in the door.

If someone comes unexpectedly, I say things like “the state of this place drives me crazy, but housework is bad for creativity” or “it’s not always this bad (pause) sometimes it’s worse.”

And everybody laughs and thinks what a character I am.

And just in case if they seem like the type who might laugh but think something unkind, I add that I’m trying to be a good neighbour because ‘a good housekeeper’ would not be high on anyone’s wish list for a good neighbour.

The neighbours don’t have to worry about me.

 

Janice Wells lives in St. John’s. She can be reached at janicew@nf.sympatico.ca.

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