Recently, on an absolutely gorgeous sunny day in the fall here in Vermont, I made a decision to do something that in the past I would have never dreamed of doing… I took the whole day to completely clean out and de-clutter my basement.
You see, in the past I would not have been caught dead doing something like this in a dark basement on a sunny warm autumn day in Vermont. I would have been outside first thing on a 10 mile trail run, probably followed by a long mountain bike ride in the afternoon with friends, and a cold beer to finish off the day to make it feel ‘complete’.
The thought of being inside on a day like this, cleaning and organising a basement utility room and closets filled with boxes and boxes of various things that take hours to go through and sort out, would have felt like a nightmare to me back then.
After attending a number of Universal Medicine presentations, I came to realise a few years ago that my drive to fill my time with activities like sports was just a way to distract myself from feeling an emptiness brought on from not feeling like I was enough as I was. Thus I used these activities to ‘prove’ myself and identified myself by them. But today my life is very different, and I find satisfaction and completeness in the simple things in life, because the empty feeling has been replaced by a daily practice of self-loving acts and practical ways to re-connect with my body throughout the day. This has naturally brought about a greater acceptance of myself no matter what is going on in my life. I now feel there is nothing to prove to anyone.
So right after breakfast I set out to go into the dark, virtually windowless part of our basement and slowly but surely sorted through every box filled with various home and electronics equipment, junk drawers of desks filled with ‘stuff’, cleaned, organised, threw away things not used in years, and cleaned again, until at the end of the day I felt like it was complete for now.
I was left with a space that felt much cleaner, organised, orderly, and in general, lighter. Later, I would refine this even more to match my level of commitment to the project, and, I feel, to life in general.
To me, the power of committing to doing these simple and loving tasks that bring order and spaciousness to our homes is directly correlated to the level that we commit to serving others in our communities. If we can make a decision to change one simple thing about our homes, and feel how it helps things flow better in our household and lives, then maybe we can start to see how helping other people around us is both a needed and an enjoyable activity.
So on that day I was able to bring that outside glorious golden sunshine inside my basement, and more importantly, inside of me, filling my body with light and a different kind of daily purpose. It almost felt like cleaning out my basement was also clearing out space inside my body, so I was able to see how such a seemingly mundane task could hold a greater purpose in my life. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole process without for a minute feeling like I’m missing something by not doing some activity outside. The lightness inside me had matched the brilliant light outside, and I felt a greater spaciousness inside my body. I finished the day with an herbal tea with my wife, as my drinking days are forever gone. This whole experience of de-cluttering my basement has led to bringing more order to the rest of our house, and therefore a deeper spaciousness to our home.
By Michael Goodhart