Another Day in the Country
© Another Day in the Country
A friend of mine lives in a lovely craftsman cottage with furnishings to match. She’s an artist, so the walls of her home are covered with artwork — her own and others’.
When I visit, I walk through her living room in awe. It is like visiting an art gallery! The tasteful décor, down to the smallest display in a corner cabinet, is lovely to behold.
One of her big old cats, named after some famous person, languidly watches my passage around the room with amber eyes at half-mast as if he’s almost dozing. But he isn’t.
My friend is a solitary person because of health limitations, so visitors to this museum of a home are limited.
The cottage has a basement, cool and secluded. It’s the work place, the engine room of the house — where laundry is done, crossword puzzles are solved, and paperwork accumulates in stacks of varying importance.
“Downstairs is where I live,” my friend says with a sly smile, “and upstairs is how I’d like to live!”
I’ve thought a lot about her statement and what it says about life — this dichotomy between what it takes to survive and our aspirations.
One is always making compromises, it seems, between reality and possibility.
We’d like a pristine, picture-perfect existence perhaps, but living is a messy enterprise. Nature is messy.
We eat to survive. Eating is messy! Plates and silverware are soiled, drips on the tablecloth, crumbs on the floor, dishes in the sink, cooking pots to be cleaned. It’s a mess. The kitchen is in disarray.
We wear clothes that get dirty, even if we do very little, and they eventually have to be cleaned.
Maintenance is mandatory and will occur with or without our cooperation. We either do our part or nature will have it’s way, decomposing.
This process of constant cycling of food, clothing, even air from clean to dirty with a need for refreshing, cleaning, and rejuvenation of some sort is unending — right down to the cell level of our body!
I live in a one-story house, literally, purposefully, and metaphorically. Everything visible on this level — the mess in the kitchen, the disarray in the art room, the clutter on the bathroom counter, and the laundry — all visible.
When I walk through these four walls, there is very little separation between how I live and how I want to live — except maybe a couple of privacy doors.
This is it: my life! Rarely is it pristine, although it too is a gallery of sorts. The minute I get it all clean (rarely, even though I work at it) it immediately begins to get messy again.
There is something very humbling about this less-than-perfect existence on another day in the country.