Marilyn Paul, PhD

Cleaning for Passover


Here in Jerusalem most of the people I meet are doing some kind of decluttering, sorting of belongings, tossing things, and giving things away.  We are getting ready for Passover, confronting our needs to save material possessions “just in case.”  I spoke to a friend yesterday who wanted to save an interesting shaped bottle just in case one of her (as-yet-unborn) grandchildren has a scientific mind and wanted to experiment with the bottle.  Her seventeen-year old daughter said, “Throw it out!”

We are cleaning our homes of breadcrumbs, cookie crumbs, anything that has leaven in it.  Anything that is “puffed up.”  We use this time to deflate.  We want to be more in touch with reality.

My clutter can include piles of ideas of things I want to write, things I want to do, people I want to connect with, flyers of events I wanted to go to and old business cards.  Today, I am feeling imprisoned by all of this dreaming.  I still stumble over my stuff on the way to what I really care about in life.  I need to keep letting go, and Passover is a great time for letting go (of slavery) and moving on to the unknown and to possible freedom.

Even here in Jerusalem where I have so few belongings and very limited space, I managed to create one mystery pile.  What’s in it?  I don’t know?  Why did I pile this up?  I don’t know that either.

Over the years, I have drastically decreased the number of piles of papers, and the number of pieces of paper in random piles.  In the old old days, I had piles in the living room, piles on my desk (hiding the desk top), piles on the kitchen counter.  Over the years, facing my fears, I have let go of old articles, event announcements, outdated checks, outdated credit card bills, uncashed checks and massive amounts of detritus.  But, now, getting ready for Passover, I face an odd pile that I put in a drawer so as not to deal with it.

I’m ready to throw out and file the mysterious contents of this pile.

I use my tried and true method for sorting a pile.

1)  I lay out my tools for sorting:  my calendar, my master to do list, file folders, a wastebasket and a timer.

2)  I remind myself of a vision of what my life can be like with less clutter.  Not a big vision, just a brief reminder “With less clutter, I am freer to do more of what I really care about.  I am less imprisoned by my belongings and my unsorted piles.”

3) I also energize myself with music or exercise.  Yelling “I can do this,” can help if it is not too embarrassing.

3)  I “pinch an inch.”  I take about an inch of papers off the main pile and make new choices for each piece of paper I encounter.  I am fierce about not moving on until I completely “bust” this pile.  Then, I pinch another inch.

4) I endure my feelings of fear, pain, lethargy or that old bugaboo procrastination.  This is where the timer comes in.  I can do anything hellish (like sorting a pile) for five minutes.

5)  I call, text, or email a support buddy if I need to.

6) I congratulate myself for my accomplishment.  I let go of the fierce inner attack of the parts of me that think I have better things to do.  Luckily, it’s Passover and there is a general consensus that this is a “better thing to do.”

And, now, I admire my handiwork.  I appreciate the sense of spaciousness.  There is room for something new here.  I continue this journey to freedom.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *