Sunday, November 21, 2010

Dust Bunnies of the Soul

After a hectic, anxiety-filled week, I enjoyed having a quiet day at home watching football and cleaning house during the commercials. I was in no hurry so I got to all those places we often overlook – the baseboard, tops of pictures, and under the couch where I found, not surprisingly, extended families of dust bunnies.

That got me to thinking about my spiritual life. (Hold on – there is a connection here.) Lately, it seems like things long forgotten have resurfaced in my awareness, seeking attention. Things that have apparently been living quietly for years in dark places, hidden from sight, like dust bunnies of the soul.

Traveling along most any inner path seems to involve, at some point, dealing with things we would rather forget, things that bring us shame or guilt or pain or fear. Although we might hope that our path would bring total peace of mind and heart, we can’t seem to get there without becoming friends with the demons we’ve kept locked in the basement as well as the less scary dust bunnies in the corners.

Whether we experience it as the dark night of the soul, the unfolding of the lotus, or addressing our therapeutic issues, we finally realize, as Pema Chodron says, the wisdom of no escape. We come to a place where making the changes we need to make in order to have a better life is less terrifying than doing things the way we always have.

And so we set about to clean house. We turn the light on in the basement, we slide the Swiffer under the couch, we throw away the unidentifiable stuff in the back of the refrigerator. And when everything is sparkling clean, we try to keep it that way as long as possible.

But you know and I know that those dust bunnies will start to reproduce again. We don’t live in a sterile world, not on the outside nor on the inside. Life is messy. So we can begrudge the periodic need to get out the cleaning supplies, or we can make peace with the rhythm of our lives, knowing that living and loving means muddy pawprints across the floor I just mopped.


  1. Beautifully written, Galen. You have captured the on-going problem of being human. We are very good at avoiding and ignoring things we'd rather not deal with. But, like dust bunnies, they are still there and won't go away until we confront them.

    Thank you for finding my blog. That allowed me to discover yours.

  2. You should blog on Wordpress! This is the kind of stuff they feature on their Freshly Pressed homepage.

    So in other words, our past will come back and haunt us occasionally. Ooooh, I hate that!

    I'll never look at Swiffering quite the same again.

  3. I loved this post. My biggest take-away is that even if we clean it out once, its not permanent, it will come back (dust-bunnies will reproduce!), and we need to keep cleaning. Awesome! Made my day :)

  4. Thanks for these comments. Yes, if we can accept the natural rhythm of life instead of thinking we can fix it all once and for all, we would be a lot happier!

  5. Hi Galen.

    I just read your post and I agree in so many things that you wrote. It is so funny how we think a like. Watch for your self, I made this 4 min. Dust Bunny, escaping the couch film.

    Link to Dust Bunnies:



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