Cleaning Up My Act

Boy oh boy…there’s nothing a writer loves more than an opportunity for a great big juicy metaphor. Yup. We just love comparing one thing to another – makes us seem really…uh…profound.

So…let me tell you about the pressure washer my husband got for his birthday. After waiting for the required it’s-your-present-so-you-get-to-use-it-first period, I finally got my turn this weekend.

Largely ignoring warnings about not over-shooting and stripping the paint off the house, I dove in enthusiastically, starting with the awnings and blasting away all those little green scaly things that developed over the winter. So satisfying! That done, I moved on to the plastic lawn chairs and zapped off the dirty grey filth – tah-dah! Next…the deck. Decades of grime disappeared, revealing what looks like brand new wood underneath. Love it!

While I was embroiled in my cleansing frenzy, that metaphor I was talking about began swirling around. Power washing is like getting rid of a bad habit, quitting a bad job or perhaps ending a bad relationship. While you don’t have the same satisfying swiiiiiish sound as background, you do experience the overwhelming relief of washing nasty stuff out of your life and down the drain.

A couple of years ago, I ended a really bad work situation – and felt completely cleansed as a result. While the final moments weren’t fun, the intense relief I felt when the deed was done and I realized I wouldn’t have to deal with the craziness any more was intense. Like my power-washed deck, I imagine I looked years younger as the perma-frown I’d been developing left my face. The knot in my stomach unclenched and those cleansing breaths my yoga instructor talks about actually seemed to be working.

And what made me do it? The realization that I could. Just as having that power washer in my hand made me think about all the things I could clean and improve, taking stock of my own abilities made me realize that I could blast the bad boss/bad job out of my world, making it a cleaner, better place.

Are you loving this metaphor so far? I’m hoping you’re suddenly wildly inspired – yes? Ready to take this unbelievably deep and meaningful metaphor to heart? Of course you are!

Maybe there’s no terrible boss to blast away, but I’ll bet you have the odd thing you would like to eradicate. If so…go at it with gusto. Throw out the cigarette pack, purge the science projects from your fridge, take all your old clothes to Good Will and toss out the tatty underwear with elastic that’s lost its oooomph. Like blasting dirt with the power washer, you’ll feel as if your world is cleaner and fresher and your horizons are somehow stretched bigger and wider.

And if that still isn’t enough for you…buy a power washer!

Is a travel writer with weekly columns in the Toronto Star, various other newspapers and She's a thrilled to be a blog contributor, and is inspired by the people she's met through White Oaks.