Keeping Clean

Max has taught me the importance of regular vacuuming and sweeping.

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It is a lesson I try my hardest to ignore, though. It’s not that I dislike vacuuming, I’m just lazy and don’t want to have to do it as often as I should with a dog that sheds lots of white hair all. the. time.

And it is easy to convince myself that it is pointless, because an explosion of hair will fall across the entire apartment the day after I clean it all up.

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It’s the same lesson I learn this time of year when I pull out my black fleece jacket that is still covered in white hair from last year. Anytime I go into public my darker clothing becomes a declaration to everyone that yes, I do have a dog and no, I do not use a lent brush. I have a brush to wipe away all the hair, but it seems pointless, because the second I return home (or, realistically, in the time it takes me to walk from my bathroom to the front door) I will again be covered in hair.

So, I have learned that it is very easy to live with a mess of dog hair. It is easy to get into the mindset that because it will get messed up again, the constant upkeep is pointless.

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But maybe it’s not so pointless. Though I still don’t brush the hair off of my clothes, I have found that I can use the chore of vacuuming as a means of reminding me that there are so many things in my life that require consistent upkeep. It is a symbolic reminder not to give up on those things I keep messing up over and over again.

Max has taught me that I can regularly examine my life and clean up those personal explosive, hairy messes that seem to be crowding and cluttering my heart.

Max has taught me that it is important to continually address whether I am being compassionate even to those with whom I disagree, to go back and listen more carefully when I was too busy to pay attention, and not to pass by opportunities to show a little extra kindness. He has taught me not to let the dust of ignorance or complicity in unjust social structures settle in my life. He has taught me to pick off (one by one if needed) the stray hairs of self-absorbed, greedy decisions and apathetic inaction.

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It’s frustrating that my heart and mind so easily get cluttered and unkempt, but I have learned that even though it will likely happen again, the work of examining and cleaning is valuable. And each time I do that work of cleaning, I am hopefully becoming a better person and more receptive to the good, loving influences in my life.

So thank you Max for teaching me the importance of regular cleaning, both in our apartment and in my own heart and mind. Thank you for teaching me that such renewal is valuable, even if I have to address it over and over again. (But don’t expect me to brush your hair off my clothes every time just yet…we’ll take baby steps on this one).

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