One way or the other

September 22, 2009

Wednesday~September 23, 2009

There are dust bunnies. So many. They are under the bed and in me, scurrying across the wooden floors of my home and my heart. They are moving much too fast through the empty, bumping into toys and crayons and dried up play-doh, then coming to a weary stop.

It seems no matter how we try to keep up with them, they are winning. So we sweep up only the ones that are out in the open and then we leave the house, coming and going with the living of everyday life.

We could hold them out in the palms of our hands to show that we have them, but the bunnies float and they spin and we can’t seem to catch them. We push them under the rugs to hold them still.

We ignore them.

We force them to unnoticed parts of our cluttered minds, and move on to do the easier, the more manageable and mundane things. We go through the motions.

This thinking I’m doing about dust bunnies and life began the other day when Ryan was playing with the boys on our bed, wrestling. Arms and legs were flailing and there were giggles and shrieks.

Then Ryan’s coffee mug was knocked to the floor by one of those flailing feet or hands. It fell with a crash, shattering off the nightstand and splashing into a large puddle under our bed. Coffee covered the floor and chased the bunnies.

So we stopped the easier things we were doing and lifted the bedside table, we wiped clean the unseen places, sliding as far as we could across the wood floor under the bed, on our bellies, reaching. It seemed like a gallon of coffee under there, dripping down the walls and oozing into the floorboards.

I sighed and sat back as I saw all the other things that needed cleaning while I was there. Something sticky, dog hair, and those dreaded dust bunnies.

The more I look, the less I want to do this, I thought.

We did not rot the floorboards by leaving that mess that seemed too big. Instead, we were knees to the floor, uncovering the darkest places so long ignored. And then the stubborn bunnies rose in protest, making it even harder. Oh, how they hurried and hunkered with each reach of the broom or rag. They fought to find their way back to the darkest corners, annoyed at being forced out and up.

So we tried harder, we took to chasing them down and wiping them out.

We were cleaning up the dark places, together.

It needed to be done.

It’s much easier to walk away from those same kind of ignored places between us, the ones that itch at the subconscious and tug at the heart, the ones swept under rugs. But even when that goes on too long, unexpectedly but certainly, a destructive wind of change will blow in. The kind of blast that forces us to look under the bed and into the dark corners, because of all that shattered glass.

Then we lift up the rugs, letting up the dusty air, revealing what we’ve told ourselves is just fine the way it is when it’s not.

It breaks the quiet that’s not really peace after all.

It pulls the bunnies from under the rug and puts them in the palms of our hands where we cannot deny them, where we have to grasp them and then take them away from our home, from ourselves.

Sometimes we remember to keep working at a clean house, belly crawling and then grasping and releasing before it all gets out of hand.

At other times, we find ourselves strangely thankful for spilled coffee and broken glass, for the overwhelming messes that pull us down to the dark places, to take a look and make a change.


Ann's Rants September 23, 2009 at 7:55 pm

Heather this is so beautiful and honest. Profound, yet so simple.

It's not trying at anything, it just is.

And…after 13 years with husband I RELATE.

Helene September 23, 2009 at 8:14 pm

Oh Heather, this was a very powerful post! You express your thoughts so beautifully. The dust bunnies were a perfect metaphor! I can totally relate….oh, how I can relate.

D. September 23, 2009 at 8:31 pm

Heather – that was very honest and heartfelt. I can relate to it from when I was married and now even with the divorce. There are just those "dust bunnies" of life. Nice work.

Susan Berlien (warmchocmilk) September 23, 2009 at 9:40 pm

Awesome!! You know how I love a good analogy. Well done.

Adventures In Babywearing September 23, 2009 at 10:04 pm

Loving you big time.


Angela September 23, 2009 at 11:05 pm

Beautiful…raw and beautiful…your writing and your heart and your dedication are so amazing

Kristina P. September 23, 2009 at 11:06 pm

Is it OK if I make my husband clean the actual dust bunnies on his own?

KK September 23, 2009 at 11:07 pm

Beautiful and it feels so good when those corners are all cleaned out.

WILLOW TREE September 23, 2009 at 11:15 pm

"It breaks the quiet that's not really peace after all." Powerful my friend. This is hauntingly beautiful.

Blessings, C~

Kazzy September 23, 2009 at 11:26 pm

Getting into those corners ends up really helping in the long run, huh? It's just the motivation that is tough to rustle up.

Susan Berlien (warmchocmilk) September 23, 2009 at 11:27 pm

Okay. Can I comment more than once. Because I've read it more than once….okay like 10 times! It's so great Heather. I love it. Your dust bunnies remind me of our tree…the coffee spills, the basement floods…These things make us take a closer look, work together, clean out the crud. I totally get it.
Okay now I'm making analogies between the bunnies and our tree. (one can get carried away with this analogy stuff )

Kim September 23, 2009 at 11:38 pm

Heather this is so perfectly written. I think I always say this to you ;) Seriously though, I love this. I am with Susan, I will have to read this again and again and again. It is so so very true, all of it.
love to you my dear.

Tiaras September 23, 2009 at 11:41 pm

you have such an amazing way with words . . . so beautiful and silent at the same time

susannah September 23, 2009 at 11:47 pm

what a beautiful post, that i know i will be thinking about for a long time.

That Girl September 24, 2009 at 12:21 am

"Beautiful" seems trite, but I don't know what else to say. Why is it that the English language always seems too limited when I think about you?!

Kristen@nosmallthing September 24, 2009 at 4:28 am

What a perfect metaphor. You wrote this so beautifully! Sometimes it takes the "mess" getting so unbearably messy to get us to clean it up.

Kori September 24, 2009 at 7:41 am

I don't know about the whole marriage part of it, but I DO know this applies to a lot of things in LIFE. And I loved it, and I am going to have my daughter read this, too, so thank you so much. You are amazing.

Cynthia@RunningWithLetters September 24, 2009 at 7:42 am

Heather, I've been returning to your blog for weeks now, because I really enjoy your writing. I have three cats and two Labradors, so I'm no stranger to dust bunnies. Just yesterday, my best friend and I scouted out a decorating project that would involve the removing of the headboard from my king-sized waterbed. We saw lots of dust bunnies. And feathers (did I mention the Cockatiel?) So needless to say, I found your post timely! Good to have some fresh perspective as I tackle the unexplored caverns beneath the bed!

Lindsey September 24, 2009 at 7:42 am

Oh Heather,
This is lovely – I've been reading you for a long time but this is the first time I've felt compelled to comment.
I can absolutely relate to everything you say – just celebrated nine years of marriage and the tension between what is true peace vs. what is just ignoring things is very salient to me.
Thank you!

Billy Coffey September 24, 2009 at 8:03 am

Nothing bothers me more than dust bunnies, whether under the bed or in my life. But I've found it's easier to clean them up if you have help.

I read once where scientists actually studied the contents of dust bunnies and found residue from meteorites. I like knowing that the stuff of stars is in my home.

That was a great post, Heather.

Kathy B! September 24, 2009 at 9:14 am

Your writing is beautiful and this was such a powerful and honest post. I love it.

Jen September 24, 2009 at 10:52 am

I so love how you think and when you do, beautiful things come out like this.

Jo@Mylestones September 24, 2009 at 11:09 am

Such a powerful metaphor, so beautifully put.

Debbie September 24, 2009 at 11:49 am

Good mercy, you can write! I bet you were the one in your English classes that always found the hidden meaning in every story, weren't you?
I so love this. I think I am quite skilled at pushing those bunnies further under the bed when I desperately need to do a little cleaning.

Kate Coveny Hood September 24, 2009 at 12:22 pm

I'm good about this when it comes to real cleaning – use the mess as an excuse to do much needed maintenance and tackle the jobs I've been avoiding. But in life…I think I leave far too many dust bunnies in their hiding places. "Hey – if you stay out of sight, then I don't see you. Win-win my friend…" of course I'm wrong.

Carrie September 24, 2009 at 1:35 pm

Oh, Heather, wow. This is great. What an awesome analogy!!!

Aunt LoLo September 24, 2009 at 2:09 pm

Beautiful…if a rather annoying reminder that I should be CLEANING while the kids are asleep, rather than reading your lovely blog. ;-)

Oh, the coffee? A DEAD giveaway. ;-) I read a rather random viral e-mail once that had an entire list of nicknames for Mormons, and their various counterparts.
I? I am a Mo. A Mormon. You? You are a FroMo – a friend of the Mormons. If you weren't our friend, you'd simply be a NoMo – a non-Mormon. If you used to be a Mormon, and had a change of heart, you'd be a NoMoMo – a No More Mormon.

Make sense?

I'm glad you're a FroMo. :-)

Angie September 24, 2009 at 2:16 pm

Beautiful analogy. Your words have spoken truth once again to me… I'm so glad I found your little world.

Boy Crazy September 24, 2009 at 3:28 pm

I like this. I write a lot about how I don't like to sweep things under the rug (unless we are talking about *actual* dog hair) and how I find that can really make people uncomfortable.

When I read your line about how the quiet isn't necessarily peace, that nailed it for me. I don't deal well with the quiet that is there because no one wants to acknowledge the dirt (or the dust bunnies, or the crud that has to be talked about). But it is really hard to do the clean up alone. And exposing the mess for what it is sends some people running. The ones who will stay and clean up with you? Those are the keepers. For certain.

I like this a lot.

charrette September 24, 2009 at 4:59 pm

There is so much power in the layers of meaning behind this line: "Instead, we were knees to the floor, uncovering the darkest places so long ignored."

Our hearts need this. Our marriages need this. Our families need this.

Corinne September 24, 2009 at 6:16 pm

Just beautiful. I dont' even have words.

Eowyn September 24, 2009 at 6:32 pm

All I could think about as I read this post was, "Wow! She did it again! She totally did it again!!!"

You are awesome and I love this post. I shall look at dust bunnies a whole new way!

maggie September 24, 2009 at 6:46 pm

I so want to send this to my engaged sister, but I don't think she'd appreciate it. I, however, LOVE IT. Thank God I get to marriage dust bunnies more often than I get under the bed.

a Tonggu Momma September 24, 2009 at 8:50 pm

Those dust bunnies? Make me sneeze. (This was beautiful, by the way.)

L.T. Elliot September 24, 2009 at 9:12 pm

This is just perfect to describe marriage. I'm so glad you both cleaned up the spills–and were grateful for the shattered glass that brought you there.

Blessed September 24, 2009 at 10:22 pm

In the middle of some broken glass right now… thank you for this beautiful post

Motherboard September 25, 2009 at 10:03 am

Aww my dear, you did it again. Parallel lives is all I have to say.

Thanks for a beautifully written post. I'm cleaning out my dust bunnies now too… and sometimes it hurts.

deb September 26, 2009 at 10:07 am

I wasn't going to comment, but I'm back. This post is powerful and beautiful. But it is the picture that I have been carrying around. With the two of you bowed and pressing in and together as one. Goosebumps.

Shelle October 4, 2009 at 12:57 am

Wow that rings too close to home. I just realized how old I've gotten and how many dust bunnies are piled up under my bed. I hate to go there.

Love your blog:)

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