It is 8:30 am on a Friday morning. I wake up with a crick in my neck from having fallen asleep on my arm while watching Netflix the previous night. I groan in agony as my surroundings start to make sense to me. I have just remembered that I had started cleaning my room the previous day, got distracted and left a whole bunch of things lying on the floor for me to clear later. Ah, fuck.
I wade through the debris of my cleaning exploits as I head for the kitchen, desperately in need of coffee and a great excuse to not have to clean. As I wait for the kettle to boil I look at the smear of chocolate spread left on the kitchen counter by my grown-ass flatmate that morning. The kitchen wipes are 2 feet away from the glistening smear. It looks recent, it looks nonchalant, it has the words ‘don’t give a shit’ stamped all over it. It is affecting me in more ways than I thought it would.
There’s a lesson in all of this isn’t there? Ah, fuck.
I return to my room with my coffee and a renewed sense of purpose. Time to take some darn responsibility and get this over with, I think to myself as I start sorting the things on the floor into different categories. It is a process that shows no sign of ending. I take a few things to the drawer I have designated for them only to find that drawer already filled with other things. How do I have so many things on the floor while still having things in drawers? What are all these things? When did I buy them? What use do I have for them? Exactly how much money and space do I think I have?
As I stuff a wobbly tower of underwear into a drawer I think about capitalism and this culture of endless consumerism that we’re trapped in. New trends and fads popping up every day driving millions of consumers to near bankruptcy just trying to keep up. I think about the pace at which technology is racing ahead, prompting us to throw out our ‘old’ gadgets merely months after use to be replaced by a ‘newer’ model. I think about the ridicule faced by people who don’t give in to this consumerism, the taunts of not getting with the times.
Newer doesn’t always mean better, I think as I stack numerous unused notebooks into a neat pile never to be looked at again. At least not until the next cleaning.
Gosh, it never ends, does it? If I want to start exercising tomorrow I will probably stock up on gym clothes before I even get a gym membership. If my ‘new-year-new-me’ shtick includes taking care of my hair and skin then I will be sure to buy bottles upon bottles of beauty, skincare and haircare products that I will keep for a few years before throwing them out because they’re way beyond their expiry date and have gone a bit off-colour. A trip to the supermarket to buy 3 things soon turns into a full-blown shopping expedition with me making up scenarios in my head and grabbing the products that I will maybe need for those situations. The smiling check-out lady then reads out my total as I die a little on the inside while reaching for my purse to pay for a silly kitchen gadget that I now realise, is completely redundant.
Somewhere, a billionaire retailer dives nose-first into his massive pool of cash.
I finally manage to arrange everything that I have retained after a ruthless purge of excess into their place. The lesson here is far beyond responsibility and maintaining a clean home, I contemplate. It is about thinking about the bigger picture rather than the small, insignificant things. It is about differentiating between what we want and what we need. It is about being good to the environment. It is about being less wasteful, less superficial and less judgemental. It is about owning up to the mess you’ve created and taking steps to be better and do better.
I look around my spotless room with pride, satisfied that I have done so much more than just clean my room. Only the clothes I need stacked neatly in the cupboard. The unused stationery I have, placed visibly so I can use them and not buy anymore. The minimum number of lotions and products I will need to look presentable and feel good, arranged in a straight line on the dresser.
Hmm, I should probably get a basket for those.