Going Inward



I began this post this morning, just after 8.

I have music playing quietly.

A candle lit.

The cold front has broken; today is full of sun.

That’s all I had written when my 4.5-year-old, Petra, interrupted me.

Here I am more than twelve hours later. What was I going to write about this morning? I had a few ideas, but they’ve escaped. I had a point I wanted to make about Marie Kondo’s tidying up method. What was it?

Yesterday I took Kondo’s book The life-changing magic of tidying up out of the library. I know the main idea is about keeping whatever “sparks joy” and getting rid of the rest. Also sorting by category and folding in a certain way. I wonder how weeding for joy-sparking applies to things that are functional. (A toothbrush? A vacuum cleaner?) As I flip through, one line jumps out at me: “The urge to point out someone else’s failure to tidy is usually a sign that you are neglecting to take care of your own space.” How true that seems, not only with clutter, but with anything. Of course there are times we might have perspective that could help a friend, but often our advice, our “you shoulds,” our dwelling about how this one or that one should change, really are signs that there is something we ourselves need to change. I suppose it’s a variation of Jung’s shadow, pointing toward a flaw in ourselves or an undeveloped part of ourselves.

What would that mean? That each time we notice something someone else “should” do, we should re-direct our attention back to ourselves? That could make us awfully solipsistic. Maybe it only applies when the attention to another’s perceived flaw becomes obsessive, wearisome, distracting.

We want to change ourselves, and we want to be change agents, activists, engaged citizens. But when it comes to friends and families, the key, it would seem is acceptance.

Last night I stayed up late reading Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh. I didn’t know anything about this author and I loved not knowing as the house and city grew quiet around me as I flipped the pages of her brilliantly-written (except for the end) and also grotesque and disturbing book. Today I read about the author and when she said that she doesn’t do Facebook and Twitter, (steers clear of the internet in general) I thought that was amazing. At least in her interviews, she doesn’t seem to worry that others are consumed with their smartphones, wrapped up in their online personas. She is focused on what she wants to do. That is so highly developed. I know my obsessive concern about how much others are living their lives online says more about my own lack of discipline than anything else. I should ask myself, if I am pulled to think about others’ habits, what I might be neglecting in my own.

I have no music playing now. No candle. The sun has long since gone down. Tomorrow I’ll try again to write in the morning. It seems the best time for making sense of the day.





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