Tuesday, August 23, 2011

What Do Clean Floors, Spooks and Life Have in Common

I had two big accomplishments today. The first being the semi-annual cleaning of my adobe floors. Why so often?, you might be thinking... But it's very important to clean one's floors. Because mine are made of baked mud, which cannot help but dissolve a bit on scrubbing and because cleaning anything with a solution of muddy water does not generally get it clean looking, I guess my idea of often might vary from yours.  But today I did clean them which led to lots of wonderful things.

First of all, vacuuming is a really good thing to do. You get a chance to find all the spiders and you get the benefits of a totally encompassing job. It uses both arms, legs, your back and even demands your ears and eyes. You can really do nothing else but think while you're vacuuming. I have noticed that the best thinking comes when the ability to multitask is taken away and you are stuck with a fairly mindless but body-consuming task. And I had a lot to think about, owing to my second big accomplishment of the day.

I finally finished watching all 80 episodes of Spooks!

Maybe that sounds like a silly achievement. But for someone who writes about this series a lot, it is a very nice advantage to have actually watched all of it.  In addition to not having seen all the episodes before today, part of my problem has been seeing the ones I have seen out of proper order. [I started with seasons 7 & 8, and then, because 9 was not out yet, started over with 1 through 5. However, before I got to season 6,  9 came out on dvd and I watched it. What a mess.] So I am just now ironing out the flow of how this series has actually unfolded all along. And for some reason this all reminds me of life ... and floors. Just wait, it will all come together.

One of the best parts of season 6 was to see the introduction of Ben as a spooks team member.  I already knew Ben. He was one of my favorites from the first season I ever watched. And I know what happens to him. It is funny now, watching his scenes with Connie, I think: "did either of these actors have any idea what was coming up for their characters?" I doubt it. That's part of the "real" appeal of the show -- they keep the actors on a need to know basis.

Just like vacuuming. and life.

Now that I know what has happened before and what comes after, I can watch an earlier show with all the context and retrospect that add poignancy, but without the stress of uncertainty. Now I know where all the bad things are. Examining the past, while knowing what's coming and with some emotional distance, a viewer can focus on lots of little details missed the first time being too nervous.

Like when I look at old pictures or memorabilia. The smiling people in those photos have no idea what is coming. But I do. You may not get a chance to re-live your life a second time, but you do get to review it any time you want, usually with clarity and less emotion once you've identified where all the major things happen. It's like pausing time, getting off the racetrack of stressful events playing out on a daily basis, and seeing the whole course and details that emerge in those snippets, receipts, photos, trip diaries and letters, more clearly.

With life, you can use your review of the past to think about what is important and help inform where you want to go. With TV shows, you obviously don't get any say on what happens in future episodes based on your review of the past or there are certainly things I would insist happen in season 10! But you do get a benefit of a clearer and more complete view, when your eyes aren't clouded with stress.

And today I cleaned my floors with introspection. Eliminating debris that muddied my vision. I flooded the floor with soapy water and then took the time to really remove that slurry. Pausing from all the things that keep us mired and taking that second look allows you to see the beauty of the substrate and feel fresh and renewed.

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