I still have a handwritten list of resolutions for 2012 in my day planner, intending to type it up, intending to tackle the tasks, achieve the goals, conquer the world. Instead as I turned a page to begin a new week I moved the list, tucked it in between pages a few weeks ahead. When I encountered it again I moved it forward again usually without a glance at the good intentions. Until Thanksgiving. Then I gave up and fast-tracked it to the end of the book. One of the gems it contains, "If you don't have enough time to do what you want to do, turn off the tv." Other notes about spring cleaning my life, abandoning the time-burglars, making more time for art...perhaps I'll get around to it this year. Meanwhile I might take some of Louise Erdrich's advice. If I follow her instructions on housekeeping--and I'm already a deplorable housekeeper--Robb should be very afraid.
"Advice to Myself"
by Louise Erdrich
Leave the dishes.
Let the celery rot in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator
and an earthen scum harden on the kitchen floor.
Leave the black crumbs in the bottom of the toaster.
Throw the cracked bowl out and don't patch the cup.
Don't patch anything. Don't mend. Buy safety pins.
Don't even sew on a button.
Let the wind have its way, then the earth
that invades as dust and then the dead
foaming up in gray rolls underneath the couch.
Talk to them. Tell them they are welcome.
Don't keep all the pieces of the puzzles
or the doll's tiny shoes in pairs, don't worry
who uses whose toothbrush or if anything
matches, at all.
Except one word to another. Or a thought.
Pursue the authentic—decide first
what is authentic,
then go after it with all your heart.
Your heart, that place
you don't even think of cleaning out.
That closet stuffed with savage mementos.
Don't sort the paper clips from screws from saved baby teeth
or worry if we're all eating cereal for dinner
again. Don't answer the telephone, ever,
or weep over anything at all that breaks.
Pink molds will grow within those sealed cartons
in the refrigerator. Accept new forms of life
and talk to the dead
who drift in through the screened windows, who collect
patiently on the tops of food jars and books.
Recycle the mail, don't read it, don't read anything
except what destroys
the insulation between yourself and your experience
or what pulls down or what strikes at or what shatters
this ruse you call necessity.