"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."
Dust to dust, ashes to ashes--so why waste time dusting, right? Life is an untidy business, which can only be relished, not controlled. And "good housekeeping" may be a cover for a person who yearns to be more adventurous, but chooses to play it safe for fear of the messiness of a life lived with abandon.
Immediately, I recalled an old poem I wrote, also about housekeeping, also wry in its tone:
Raking your rug,
Not hitting your kids,
Not breaking a plate,
Or slamming a door.
Raking the shag,
Not talking it out,
Not cleaning the shelves,
Or calling a friend.
Raking your rug,
Not crying your tears,
Not showing your pain—
Or feeling it.
Raking, you made
The living room die,
While Rose Milligan's poem contains a warning to live life while you can--a warning that could have benefited this woman who perpetually raked her shag carpeting--my poem is more of an observation about housekeeping as a coping method. Rug raking is seen as a means of avoiding stress, honest communication, necessary confrontations, and emotional upheavals by keeping occupied with outward tidiness.
As I look around at my messy countertop, my computer surrounded by a crumb-covered dish, an empty coffee cup, an empty water glass, pens and paper, and a cell phone on which I now note an illuminated text from my precious daughter, I feel joy for the untidiness of my life and my ability to take the time to write this post, even though I need to get work done on my novel-in-progress. Dust abounds, and that's just fine with me.