Against Spring Cleaning
By Matt Dickstein
*** Note: I wrote this article for an issue of the Fremont Chamber Business Review where the general topic was “spring cleaning.” The issue had many tips for cleaning up your workplace, diet etc. I felt contrary however….
Thankfully, we can find lots of books and articles and TV programs on lots of healthy subjects – what to eat and not to eat, how to exercise, how not to look like a fool on first dates, etc. We can go on-line and learn of the carbon footprint each of us, individually, leaves on this earth through our unholy and consumptive habits.
Those of us who are married (our worse, have teenagers) can go home and hear about our shortcomings and the things we need to do to become better, more considerate people. I get tired just thinking about all the ways I can improve. It makes me want to start smoking.
There is no shortage of experts to tell us how to live. Don’t smoke, drink, belch or indulge in bathroom humor. Remember your first impressions. It’s hard to argue against so many do-gooders because they really mean well. To argue with them is just to come off as a deranged sinner.
So I write this article in praise of sin, sloth, bad habits, yellow teeth and a thorough lack of hygiene. I do not recommend any of these things, of course. I’ve just been thinking about a world without sin, without problems. Heaven on earth would be a hell to live in.
I have noticed that people with all types of serious shortcomings nevertheless contribute something positive to our world. They make our world better, richer (or in new-speak, more “robust”). Think of the most negative and unpleasant person in your family – although this person might be a real drag, still your family needs this person to be whole. Be thankful they’re here – only once a year.
I have noticed that truly beautiful things are never perfect. Frequently it’s the cup stain on the wood table that makes it perfect. I prefer the practice-takes or out-takes of music to the over-produced final product. There is humanity in the mistakes which makes the music even more beautiful.
Yes, we should try to improve ourselves. Spring cleaning is a good thing. But let’s go easy on ourselves and our neighbors. By enforcing absolute virtue and perfection we might take all the good out of life, or worse, do great evil. Let’s enjoy our imperfect world and our screwed up selves – they’re perfect the way they are.