I spent the better part of a a day cleaning my desk and straightening some bookshelves. It seems to be a neverending chore. Here’s what my desk looked like before I started:
And, I must admit that I took this photo after I’d already removed a layer. I tend to use my desk as a dumping ground, which I know is not a good idea, and once there’s too much stuff on it, I work on the dining room table until I get around to cleaning it off, which can sometimes take weeks. On the other hand, if I need to find sunscreen, tea, pens, and aspirin at the same time, my desk is usually a good place to look.
The odd thing is that I kind of enjoy cleaning it off. Part of it is the treasure hunt aspect: What will I find that I misplaced, thought was lost, or just plain forgot I owned? The other aspect is the personal. Like many people’s desks, mine is more than just a place to work. My desk, in fact, was made by my father. It’s wide and long, six feet long, so I have lots of space to spread out (or toss stuff, take your pick). My father also made the small wooden cash register in the center for me when I was one year old. Now, I use its drawer to hold paper clips and post-it notes. I have family photos–a photo of a great-grandfather with his horse, me and my siblings, parents, and cousins, me and Ruby and Mr. Miscellany. I have gifts from my daughter, trip memorabilia, and a small bookholder that belonged to my grandfather. Cleaning the desk is a cheerful trip down memory lane.
When I finish and see how nice my clean desk looks, I always say that this time I’ll make sure it stays that way. But, I know better. The only way, I think, to keep it clean is not to use it again, but to, from time to time, come into my office and stare at how lovely it looks.