Dust if You Must :: Ponderings of a Feral Housewife

The year 2020 has been hard; like unprecedentedly hard. Despite an impressive communal effort to constantly seek the bright side, this dumpster fire of a year has definitely had more valleys than peaks.

If you’re like me, you might periodically find yourself navigating some type of existential crisis. This year has been no exception.

During a recent period of personal introspection, I stumbled upon the fascinating concept of Logotherapy by Victor Frankl*. Frankl coined the term based on the belief that human nature is motivated by the search for a life purpose. Logotherapy is the pursuit of that meaning for one’s life.

Frankl’s theory proposes that finding one’s meaning in life can be discovered in three distinct ways:

    1. By experiencing something fully or loving somebody

    2. By creating a work or accomplishing some task

    3. By the attitude that one adopts toward unavoidable suffering

It’s no surprise that today’s modern technology can make it extremely difficult to unplug and fully experience the world around us. Since there’s very little chance of my iPhone loosening its grip on my attention span, I decided to explore my other options on my quest for life’s true meaning.

The act of accomplishing tasks seemed like the more sensible and realistic route for me, as this year provided no shortage of things that I’m responsible for doing. In fact, the idea that the serotonin-boosting act of checking things off my list would ultimately lead to enlightenment seemed too good to be true.

…SPOILER ALERT:
It very much was.

I was mistakenly measuring my self-worth and overall success with cyclic, care-taker like tasks: the types of tasks that will never be fully completed. These are things like: laundry, dishes, dusting. Even though you will never, ever hear me proclaim to be a domestic goddess of any kind, I repeatedly found myself in a valley of guilt for not being ‘productive enough’ regarding my household duties.

“Dishes again, UGH. When will it end?”

The cold hard truth is that nothing was going to change on the domestic front. The harsh reality is that no matter the effort spent, these care-taker tasks will inevitably repeat themselves day in and day out. Every single day. Forever.

This is exactly why it’s imperative that we reframe our mindset and attitude.

If we are constantly measuring the success of our day with our ability to complete tasks that can never be fully completed, we’re setting ourselves up for failure. Repeated failure. And I can’t think of anything we need less of in this year of (what feels like) unavoidable suffering. If there’s one thing 2020 has taught me it’s not to take the simple, everyday life for granted.

There’s a poem I read that inspired this moment of clarity for me and I’ve shared it with you below. I hope you find her words as comforting as I did and that it gives you a reason to pause, breathe, and just be.

I can’t pretend to be an expert on finding the true meaning in life, but I do know I won’t find it buried in a list of chores.


“Dust If You Must”
By Rose Milligan

Dust if you must, but wouldn’t it be better
To paint a picture, or write a letter,
Bake a cake, or plant a seed;
Ponder the difference between want and need?

Dust if you must, but there’s not much time,
With rivers to swim, and mountains to climb;
Music to hear, and books to read;
Friends to cherish, and life to lead.

Dust if you must, but the world’s out there
With the sun in your eyes, and the wind in your hair;
A flutter of snow, a shower of rain,
This day will not come around again.

Dust if you must, but bear in mind,
Old age will come and it’s not kind.
And when you go (and go you must)
You, yourself, will make more dust.


*Disclaimer: This is my extremely surface-level interpretation of Frankl’s theory, as I have not extensively researched his beliefs or practices.
Kristen Gary
Kristen, a proud UL Lafayette graduate, lives nestled between Verot School Rd. construction signs with her 2 children, husband, and projects waiting to be worked on. For her, family comes first - always. When she isn’t diving headfirst into an existential crisis, she spends her time catching up on all things Bravo, wishing she had gone to bed earlier, and helping her husband find household items hidden in plain sight. Kristen is obsessed with helping moms feel encouraged, supported and confident throughout their motherhood journey. As the owner of CircleUP Fitness, she devotes her time and energy to ensuring moms across the Acadiana area look and feel their very best. A fierce mental health advocate and part-time social justice warrior, Kristen believes vulnerability is the key to a happy life and strives to live life as transparent as possible.

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