Something about the phrase “Spring Cleaning” doesn’t sit well with me. The concept is good and right. In spring, all of nature is waking up from its winter hibernation, shaking off the old, preparing for the new. It is natural for humans to feel an obligation or even a desire to do likewise. The word “Spring” is not the problem. In the phrase “Spring Cleaning”, spring is used as a description of another word – an illusion. The focus falls on the noun or the object that just happens to also be the word for a much-despised action. Must I say it? Cleaning is absolutely a necessary evil. There is not a living thing that does not perform some type of cleaning practice. Plants and animals clean with nary a complaint. They simply know what must be done and do it. Human beings, on the other hand, have built for ourselves such a complicated nest of rooms and possessions, that all we can do is struggle to maintain a healthy existence.
That is why I have hereby decided that I will from now on refer to “Spring Cleaning” as “Clean Springing.” This phrase paints a completely different picture but still gets the message across. The word “Clean” as an adjective delivers images filled with white linens flapping in the breezy sunshine, sounds of children’s happy laughter, and smells of freshness and warmth. While one definition of the word “Springing” is certainly leaping, a far more appropriate definition says it is being suddenly released from a coiled or constrained position. So in other words, clean springing is the act of propelling out of a period of inactivity with the intention of surrounding ourselves with fresh and wholesome sensations. Of course, this will still involve washing windows, but think of all the sunshine that action will allow in. You may still have closets to organize, but imagine how prepared you will be for a trip to the beach or a spontaneous weekend away. Consider how many fresh-picked berries and summer produce your refrigerator could hold once you’ve emptied it out and thoroughly cleaned its shelves. Delight in the feeling that a freshly mopped floor has to newly naked feet. A great advantage of clean springing is that it is not limited to one season of the year. Clean Springing should be considered an act that redeems us from the bondage of our current inhibitions. Clean Springing doesn’t have to refer to an entire house. It could easily be used to describe the need to clear off a table that has never been used for anything other than a catchall for odds and ends; it can also mean an opportunity to turn the spare bedroom into an office or nursery. We owe it to ourselves to oblige our natural impulses to start fresh and move forward.
Jennifer Tankersley is the creator ListPlanIt where you can find hundreds of lists and planning pages including cleaning schedules, daily to do lists, grocery lists, and holiday/party planning to put your world in order.
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