One of my favourite movie scenes of all time comes from 'Limitless'. Able to see the world clearly for the first time, (almost) the first thing Eddie Morra does is tidy his flat. The scene is awesome, and whenever I decide things have descended a little too far in my living environment, belting out The Black Keys soundtrack from the movie gets me going.
The sad truth is that while I am not the most useless cleaner in the world, I leave a lot to be desired. In my gap years between school and university I worked as a waiter and a porter for a while during the summer holidays of the school I was teaching at. On one occasion I was tasked with cleaning the glass of the display cabinets. I took ages, and on inspection my job still wasn't good enough. All I was doing was cleaning glass! Surely it is not that complicated? My cross line manager felt the same.
Cleaning can't possibly be a Usain Bolt style inborn talent. There have to be tricks to the trade. The problem is you often only get to do things once or twice and that isn't really the way to learn. It is a good thing many of us don't have to get subjected to army conscription. The tales I hear from my parents generation though is that that is where you really learnt to iron, make beds and peel potatoes.
Until deciding to go down the learning and blogging route and leaving my job, I have always felt very justified in getting help to do cleaning. I love a clean house, but cleaning isn't exactly my idea of a favourite way to relax when I wasn't working. I also figured I was 'contributing to the economy' by getting someone else to do the cleaning for me. My working time would be better suited to focus on my qualifications.
There is some truth to that. There isn't enough work to go around. When you are working full days in an office, cleaning can become a real bitterness inducing grudge chore. So paying someone else does seem a reasonable 'win win' solution. It does leave you as a less than complete human being though in terms of some pretty basic self-sufficiency skills. I have heard stories of high powered CEOs retiring and not knowing how to buy jam. They hadn't been in a shop for decades. Cleaning can actually be fun if you aren't in a rush and can add a touch of silliness.
Washing dishes can be fun if you add a little silliness to the mix
Embarrassingly simple tasks become something we just don't know how to do. I have a friend who defines cleaning in fractions of a Nana. His Grandmother was the Usain Bolt of cleaning. A full Nana is something equivalent to an end of tenancy deep clean of the home. The only way I could do a full Nana to his standards would be to buy a new build home. He regularly laughs at me when I ask him about simple domestic cleaning things that I have no idea about. I reckon I have trained myself up to about quarter Nana level when I have Black Keys belting out.
I like practical solutions to issues of happiness. I like the idea that if things aren't going well, you should start with the basics. Are you exercising? Are you eating right? Are you making time for proper relaxation? How is your breathing? Are you thinking positively? Then you can move onto more complicated things like building quality relationships and finding something you are good at that challenges you.
Before you do any of that. Clean up.