Broken Windows

I’ve been in quite a rut lately.  Mostly just going through the motions, both at work and at home.  My mind has not been sharp, and my body has all kinds of new potential that has gone unused.  Long time friends know that this is not me: I’m normally the hyperactive optimist, devouring self-help books, constantly excited about this or that project at work, and generally having a sunny outlook on life.  I had not slid to pessimism or cynicism, but I wasn’t me.

I got out of it this last Sunday, in the strangest of ways.

I cleaned the house.

For all my bragging about my housekeeping skills, lately those skills had gone unused.  The house had gone from”clean” to “straight” to “just clean enough to keep DHS from taking our children”.  And we’re talking months, here.  I was either too busy, or too tired, and as time went on, getting the house clean became a harder and harder proposition.  The longer we delayed, the more work it would require to even work our way up to “straight”.

And we have a beautiful house, when it’s clean.  Oh, the decor is quite kitschy for the neighborhood (we have the interior decorated like a florida beach condo), but it is nevertheless very pleasing to the eye, when clean.  I am a very social person, I enjoy having people in our home; I even enjoy throwing parties now and then.  With the way the house looked, we prayed no one stopped by for a surprise visit.

So, we double-sinned on Sunday.  We skipped church, and we broke the sabbath.  Really  broke the sabbath.  It started small; I did the dishes and started a load in the dishwasher.  Then I expanded to the greater kitchen area.  Lintilla joined in, giving the bathrooms a good cleaning.  Even the kids joined in, gathering the recycle materials throughout the house and getting it to the bins.

As the day moved on, our excitement built.  Slowly, the beautiful, but slightly tacky house that we loved was starting to emerge.  We ran out of energy, and time, in the late afternoon.  There was a grocery run that had to get done.  So, the house did not yet get immaculate.

But, you would be amazed with the spillover effect this has had in the rest of our lives.  I have an energy I haven’t had in a long time.  I spent the entire day yesterday being mega-productive for my company; for the first time in a long time, I’m excited about a project I’m working on.  It was sitting there all this time for me to be excited about, all that was waiting was for my state of mind to change.

I got home last night, and instead of plopping on the couch, I mowed the lawn (mowing the lawn, mowing the lawn, dah, dah!)  Lintilla got home and cleaned out her car (This is a major undertaking for either of us).  We show no signs of slowing down: sometime this week, the house will reach that state we call “clean”, which means we won’t mind anyone dropping in unexpectedly, or taking pictures to post on the blog.  All because Sunday morning, I finally said enough is enough.

I realise that Rudy Guiliani’s broken windows policy has its share of critics, and I have no idea if it is an effective municipal policy.  What I can tell you is that it works wonders in one’s personal life.

One of my ten favorite songs of all time is Put One Foot In Front of The Other from the ancient children’s Christmas special “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”.  I use it as inspiration for my weight loss program, for breaking this or that sinful behavior, and generally for moving forward in life.  The next time I get in a rut (hopefully a very, very long time from now), I’m going to immediately play that song, and think of the first “step” I will take.

Even if it’s just washing the dishes.


5 Responses to “Broken Windows”

  1. malia Says:

    You truly are one of kind.

  2. nm Says:

    Giuliani didn’t have a “broken windows” policy; he didn’t fix many things during his tenure as mayor. He did have an “arrest turnstile jumpers” policy, which you could call the negative version of broken windows (i.e. arrest people for committing petty infractions so as to deter major crimes). It had a positive but limited effect: riding the subway did get to be more polite.

    I like the positive version better, and I especially like your take on it.

  3. newscoma Says:

    Yes, you are one of a kind.

  4. badbadivy Says:

    I always feel better when my house is cleaner. Especially if the windows are clean, which is odd, I know. My mom used to tell me the reason I was depressed was because of my filthy house. It made me mad, but when I did get my house cleaner, I did feel better. Weird how that works.

  5. retro Says:

    Hard to believe Christmas is already around the corner. I am ready for some Thanksgiving turkey though.

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