The Nature of Things

10-29-06

Each year at this time my thoughts inevitably turn to one thing: cleaning my apartment. This urge is an odd one and I do my utmost to fight it each time it rears its ugly head. I am not opposed to cleaning and in fact I tend to vote in favor of cleanliness whenever polled. What I am opposed to is light cleaning. A room has many nooks and crannies, especially when the house itself is old, and topical cleaning does little to deal with the hidden dirt.

Prior to working in a restaurant I, like the few people I have been priviledged to observe, had little trouble doing light cleaning. It was only under the careful eye of my employer that I learned of the horrors hidden under every table and flattop stove. It was only after he showed me the crafty ways of crestfallen eggshells and the lengths fallen potatoes would go to in order to avoid detection that I came to value the importance of properly cleaning. Since receiving these lessons I have found, often to my dismay, that unless I have done the job properly I can derive no satisfaction from it. The trouble is it is an awful lot of work.

This is the time of year when many things change. Where I live the leaves are still holding on, despite the cold temreratures and in many cases despite their deaths, but the change is apparent. The most important changes of course take place in booths with ballots and (perhaps someplace still) levers. Much like the cleaning I find it hard to vote on a topical level and this too has lead to some apathy regarding the act.

Undoubtedly voting is one of the great accomplishments of the American politcal system and it is shameful to not take part in it. At the same time, uninformed voting is just as useless and potentially more harmful than not voting at all. If you listen to the radio or your fellow passengers on the subway, you undoutedly know that everyone has an opinion on these elections and these candidates. Everyone certainly feels informed and aware of the real issues.

It stands to reason that the falling leaves and dying grass play a role in feelings of depression, but I think there is something more behind it. In the spring, at least when I get around to cleaning, the messy part of the year is behind you. Very little mud or snow gets tracked into the house after the first of May and the possiblity of keeping the floors clean seems promising. In the fall the battle seems lost before it is begun, and each year in true Viking spirit, I steele myself go through the motions.

Why is it then that I am unable to do the same with the much more important act of voting? Is it because it is too much of a hassle to go the voting centers and wait in line? I don’t know. I am unable to offer any concrete reason why I continue to abstain from voting when I believe in this system so completely. On some level I feel, in a manner that I am not wholly proud of, that simply casting my vote in the upcoming presidential election is akin to sweeping around the furniture. The lazy part of me knows that if I do a decent job in this manner no one will know the wiser but the honest cleaner inside will know and will shake his weary head each time he sits in that chair and thinks of the dust lying in wait beneath him.

In this same manner the honest voter in me cannot help but feel that just turning out for election day is, in some fundamental way, dereliction of duty. The political process is a daunting one now, where the candidates for the next election seem to be campaigning only a few months after an election takes place. The lazy voter in me looks at this and throws his hands in the air and says in that defeated voice of his, “This makes no sense, I can’t see any way to affect this process other than helping choose between the ones they serve up for me.” Sadly the honest voter has had no response to this for quite some time because he too is at something of a loss for how to best to remove all the furniture and hangings in order to get at the dirt and dust that has found a way into those those hard to reach places.

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