Despite all my threats — and despite some nostalgia-induced wishful thinking — I have not gone into crazed cleaning-obsessively-for-Passover mode.
Not that there hasn’t been a ridiculous amount of cleaning because
ohmygod it starts tonight there has.
Just that I’ve been able to go about things in my own slow, measured way, and I’ve been mostly okay with that instead of ending up all Passoverwhelmed.
Yes, I know I’m the only person in the world who thinks Passoverwhelm* is funny. Just go with me on this one.
*Hat-tip to Cairene for introducing this word into my consciousness, where it quickly took up permanent residence.
Point being, I’m not as scattered as I’d imagined I would be, but my thoughts aren’t exactly coherent or anything either.
So I’m just going to think out loud a bit about what it means (for me) to clear things. Up. Out. It doesn’t matter. Just clearing.
There’s a lot of stuff to not like about being Jewish but at least you never end up with a five-year-old jar of pickles in your refrigerator.
That should totally be the title of a Woody Allen movie.
It’s so true though. Growing up, I had no patience for any of this. Not for the weeks of spring cleaning and definitely not for the general hysteria surrounding it.
The irony of being enslaved to a holiday that’s about freedom… I just didn’t get why any of it was really necessary.
And fine, I’m still not sure that it is. But I appreciate it so much more now than I ever did before.
The first time I was at someone’s house and discovered a bottle of something ancient in the refrigerator, I was baffled. How had this not gotten thrown out? WHAT ABOUT SPRING CLEANING?
All those years grappling with everything I don’t like about Judaism, fighting with tradition, arguing with identity… and I never stopped to appreciate something really, really important:
That you’ll never find anything in my refrigerator more than a year old. Small blessings. You take them where you can find them.
Symbolic clearing, part 1.
Since my hurt-ey arms don’t allow me to do as much scrubbing and scouring as I would normally deem necessary, I’ve been delegating like crazy to my gentleman friend and my brother.
But much more importantly, I’ve also been finding other ways to practice clearing out stuff that no longer needs to be there.
With some assistance on the clicking and deleting end, I took on the task of making sense of my web-browser-toolbar-bookmark thing.
Almost five years of bookmarking things on the computer … total chaos.
So I started with the goal not of making order or creating the perfect system or finishing this project, but just of symbolically clearing stuff out. If I could delete even a chunk of things that didn’t’t need to be there, that would be enough.
And each time something got deleted, I said “I don’t need you anymore. I’m making space in my life.”
This clearing out of bookmarks thing was so fascinating that it really deserves its own blog post.
For now I’ll just say that it was amazing to discover just how many things no longer exist. To see how advice I thought was totally biggified and impressive a couple years ago now seems completely boring and useless.
Anyway, we got twenty-two folders down to five. And eighty-something random uncategorized bookmarks down to seven.
Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh. Space. Even the symbolic kind. It just feels good.
Symbolic clearing, part 2.
The internal kind of clearing.
There are so many ways to do it. And not just the “talking to your stuff” work that I do. Meditation. Yoga. The life-changingly great and completely bizarre epiphany-launching Dance of Shiva.
So yeah, it’s not just for Passover — I’m pretty much always doing internal symbolic clearing work.
But the kind of questions I’m asking myself now — especially in the context of my ever-changing relationship with time — are all coming out of the themes of this holiday:
What do I need to happen in order to move from a mindframe of bondage and rules to one of freedom?
How are the structures and boundaries of freedom different from what I know?
What needs to happen for me to appreciate the freedom I have?
What other experience of freedom is already inside of me that I haven’t been able to access yet?
If I know what needs to be done, what else am I waiting for?
My second-favorite Pesach memory.
We opened the bar late. Sometime between ten and eleven. Knowing that people would start to straggle in after the big family meal at some point.
Because it’s the first night of Pesach in Tel Aviv, where people can’t not go out and a lot of places are closed and come on, they have to go somewhere.
Just me and the manager, one of my closest friends at the time. You know that thing that happens when someone gets promoted to manager and turns into the world’s biggest asshat? It still hadn’t happened to him (yet), so we were still cool.
Anyway, it was just the two of us. No waitress. I was covering the bar and he was taking the kitchen.
We knew we’d be hanging out together until at least six in the morning when we closed, so it wasn’t like we needed to fill the space with conversation.
I was cleaning something. He was cleaning something. Johnny Cash in the background. All the space in the world. All the time in the world.
Just cleaning. And thinking. And waiting, but not impatiently. Knowing that any minute a door will open. A bell will ring. And there you are.