I am sitting on the porch in my coat, looking out. The dog still circles around my legs, unsure of where he should sit, as I make no move to lift him into my lap.
4:30 AM: the blue silhouette of mountains, the lightening blackness behind.
I’m not trying to be impersonal here, but it is a relief to talk about anything but me: that is, anything but the details of my emotional and relational life.
I believe in autobiography because I believe in the profound immensity of the single, ordinary person.
Not me in particular. The "person." But can you see the "person" without the "particular?" Perhaps not. So I try not to shy away from specificity, even if that specificity consists of slivers of a vaster, more complexly private life.
Here is a sliver:
Georg says that I need to be better at "taking care of things." "Taking care of things" tends to be shorthand for the art of housekeeping, although I can't quite define this art. I think it has to do with separating your laundry into four separate piles, has to do with cherishing linen spray and clear totes for organizing, has to do with Georg breathing a dramatic sigh of relief when we finally replace our blue towels for neon white ones which "now we can bleach," he rapturizes, "So they always look this clean." I suppose this is what it means to "take care of things."
I clean (constantly, it seems), but I do not "take care of things." When I take something out, I must learn to put it away immediately. This habit of allowing messes so I can rush to the next thing (making cleaning an event rather than a natural extension of using space and things) is a distortion of time, I decide. I must care for consequences, not just actions (the putting away the coat and not just wearing it). Each small block of time that has its own particular demands, (smaller than a sweeping life purpose, but more significant).
A philosophy of taking care of things. This phrase makes me smile ironically, but it also reminds me that Georg and I are together for a reason. He has taught me that when we are called to love the world, we are not meant to love it in the abstract. We are meant to love the smallest and most ordinary facts. We are meant to love neon white towels or the chaotic jumble of indoor plants. We are meant to love mugs, loose-leafed tea, and the feeling of the simplest sweater. Is it possible that the love of things is preparation for the love of people?
Avoiding objectification is much more difficult than we think. When I want Georg to change in order to better fit me, I am seeing his existence as simply peripheral to mine, as a means to meet my needs. Isn't this also objectification? If I pour tea in a mug and drink it (using it) but then wash it out gratefully, dry it carefully, put it in its designated spot in the cupboard (taking care of it), am I objectifying an object or interacting with it? To not objectify objects: not naiveté, but a higher law. A preparation for not objectifying people.
So today I will try to take care of things.