Because it’s right, not might or fright .. just right.

My first real holiday job when I was 15 was cleaning in a private surgical hospital.  I wore a green nylon uniform, with two pockets and my school shoes. (We only had two pairs of shoes in those days and I could not wear netball boots to work.)  When you become a cleaner, secret doors are suddenly revealed, previously hidden in full view.  The cleaners cupboard stores shelves of cleaning equipment, all in their proper places, the low sinks for filling buckets plus a higher sink for washing hands. Mops, and brooms and all manner of paraphenalia directly related to the job at hand. The cleaners tools.

These broom cupboards were little kingdoms, everything was scrupulously clean and everything was in an order that allowed the rotating cleaners to be as efficient as possible. The objective of the cupboard was clear and transparent.  It was not pretty. This was for loading your trolley and going out to clean. You made a plan, your had your tools, you did your work. But unless you looked for them, you would not notice the smooth clean doors to the ugly cleaners rooms.  The general public chose not to think about the cleaning ladies in their green uniforms on their knees mopping up whatever was spilt then disappearing back behind those hidden doors to dispose of the nastiness.

Every surface in that little hospital was scrubbed or  wiped absolutely clean every day. Every floor cleaned, every window sill, window, cabinet, doorway, even the underneath of every bed, not just the floor under the bed, the underneath of the bed.  I used to empty a huge number of rubbish bins. I emptied these little bins into big bins then all those big bins went onto a trolley and I dragged it outside and emptied them all into an even larger bin. It struck me that no-one thought further than the first little bin. They threw the unmentionable finished-with smelly object into the little bin and it was immediately out of sight and out of mind. Forgotton.  Sometime in the morning the bin was suddenly empty and sweet like roses again.

A man once walked into a ward where I was cleaning. The wards had four beds each, with curtains and little bedside cupboards. All the stuff we expect in a 70’s surgical ward, in the times when a real live nurse took a patients pulse by pressing his wrist and holding her little watch.  Due to the time of day there was noone in there except me, cleaning the handbasins. He walked in, looked about, called out, ‘Is anyone here?’  I looked up.  His eyes did a 360 of the room without pause then he turned back to the door and said to the person in the corridor as he left, ‘No-one here’. I listened to their footsteps walk further down the corridor. Then went back to rinsing, wringing and wiping.

Sometimes we just don’t see what is right in front of us.  We keep rocking along in a particular direction,  and we might get to read only half the signs, we are going so fast. How often do we sit down and think. What is my objective? Am I wide awake? What is the theme of my life? Why am I doing what I am doing? What did I just see? What kind of person do I want to be? How do I do that? Where are my tools?

I was watching a documentary the other day that was all doom and gloom about fossil fuels running out. That we cannot keep farming the way we do. Our little farms are history. We have watched docos on the evils of Genetically Modified foods, and what it can do to our genetic makeup just by eating those foods. We watch docos on pollution. How all that dirty sparkly stuff in the air is blocking the sun. The bees are dying, our fields are being systematically destroyed by big business.  The earth is heating, the earth’s core is cooling. Millions of years of topsoil soil decimated and rendered innert in a few years.Water is turning bad. Monsanto is taking over the vegetable seed market. Organic and heirloom are a dying breed. The people are rioting. We do not know what to believe.  Every written piece has an agenda. These documentaries are shot fast and  and expertly cut to frighten us or to intimidate us by the might  of our enemy and to frighten us into accepting our fate. The only thing  left to do is wring our hands. Wrong.

I said to John, as I watched ‘This is terrible, what would we do without our tractor? Do we have to gather our own seed? We have to fight this. Why don’t people see what is happening.’

He exploded. John the Silent one just exploded. He was sick of all these scare mongers he said.  Making money out of terrorizing people.  ‘You know why we do what we do?’ he said ‘Because it is Right. What about doing something because it is Right! We aren’t out to save the world, just these fields. This barn. Because it is the right thing to do’  He had just bought an armload of his work clothes in off the clothes line, he threw them on the couch and began to fold in angry jerky movements. ‘How about doing it because it is right. Instead of because they tell us to. How about that?’

I had not seen the cleaners door right next to me. The door into our theme. Once I began to apply that question ‘Is this right?’ to my smallest actions and purchases, my animals and trees, my basement shelves full of food and freezers full of clean meat, my old people, my children.  My rubbish bin. It was all immediately clear. Tiny bit at a time it slotted into place.

Is this right? Some of it is.  Each of us has a different right.  So many people ask me why don’t you eat processed food, are you some kind of weirdo? You are in America now. Damn foreigners.  Why won’t you feed your cows corn, don’t you want fat in your meat?  Why don’t you spray your vegetables, don’t the bugs eat the leaves.   It is irresponsible not to kill them. Don’t they have bugs where you come from? Why do you do all this the hard way, the old fashioned way. You can’t do that. You know there is a gadget for that. Why not just turn the heat on or use the dryer. Cake is fine out of a box. Milk is bad. Eggs are diseased.  This is just the way it is done.  It is what it is.

Well, no. It is not. We are all different. That is OK.  But I have to do what I believe to be right. As do they. 

We all have our own theme. Yours will be different from mine. Your ways of mitigating waste and excess from your life will be different to mine.  Your ways of finding good safe food are different. Some people can do stuff on a grand and amazing scale, some people go down in flames still not sure what the hell happened.  Some people just take a small corner of their lives and make it right, then go on to another one and align that too. Some people are doing it gently and privately, some fast and out loud.  Some people like me are very slow learners.  If we were all the same and all agreed with each other all the time – the world would be a very very boring place.

I am going to go back into my metaphorical broom cupboard, with my eyes wide open, then look carefully at the shelves and make sure that I am doing the right things, with the right tools, in the right order to achieve my objective.

What is my personal, just for me, objective?  I thought you might ask that, so  I pondered on  this for a long time. It is hard to articulate but I need to try. You cannot even write a book without a theme. A life surely needs a few decisions.

I want to be, and I want our land to be: Safe, Brave and Useful. So all my people have somewhere to come, when they need to be safe too.

Smile to the next cleaner you see. Thank you darling.


86 Comments on “Because it’s right, not might or fright .. just right.

  1. I know it is a pipe dream but I would love if we could go back to a time when food was produced in a much simpler way. Oh I cannot believe (well actually and unfortunately I can) that anyone could walk into a room and see no one when there was a cleaner hard at work.

    • It is true that mass produced food is a problem, but as we look and explore alternatives there is always that little niche somewhere that we can build and support. because I truly believe that we can make our own tiny difference. Our breath on a butterflies wing.

  2. Wow, what an amazing, insightful, thoughtful discourse! It is amazing to me how many people do waht they do with no thought or purpose. Why we do something is by far more important (at least to me) than what we do. The results of what we do are often subject to the vagaries of life, but not our reason and purpose. Well said, c, and thanks for a vote for what is right! 🙂

  3. Wow! What a piece! My daughter would love this! I am a slow learner, too, but have my daughter to thank for helping me realize how important our world – even just my little piece of it! – actually is. I’m a ‘gently and privately’ person, my daughter is the ‘fast and loud’. But we each have our place – trying to make our own tiny difference! Thank you!

    • You and your daughter are absolutely right Phyllis, I agree, our work is important and we do make a difference.. c

  4. Thank you, Celi, for a beautifully written, thought-provoking post. In high school, I worked as a janitorial assistant for the parish & school. While at work, much like your experience in the ward, it was as if i wore Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak. I learned and have tried to at least acknowledge the presence of “service” people that may be nearby. I’ve a feeling that your farm, your land, your home, is well on the way to meeting your objective. It is, after all, only Right.

    • Once we know what is right for us, we are well on our way.. I actually liked the cleaning work. It is satisfying and usually solitary so you can just wander about in your own thoughts.. c

  5. I have to share this one, C. I worked as a housekeeper for two years when I was trying to figure myself out. It really is a very good job for that kind of thing. What I discovered is that most of what people see of me is what I’ve done, not what I say. Which leaves me no excuse not to live the change I want to see in them. If that makes any sense. Thank you, sweet lady, for your wonderful words 🙂

    • ‘Be the change you want to see in the world.’ Ghandi said that I think.. I had not thought of it until your wrote your response.. very true indeed.. c

  6. Don’t get me started on the “no one here” bit! grrrrr But quite the deep post here, lady. I think what you do is awesome and although I could never do it, I know it is far healthier than most of what the rest of us chow down on. I see you got all leafy in your pictures 😉 What is that last one? t

  7. Wonderful, thoughtful, amazing post. “Safe, Brave and Useful.” I like that. Very purposeful. 🙂

  8. If we each start with one little corner of our lives…well, that’s do-able, isn’t it? Not overwhelming…like if you tried to fix everything at once…
    Beautiful post,C. Sorry I can’t gather my thoughts into a more coherant response…I’m just a little teary….

    • Thank you, I did not mean to make you teary. and yes we can make our own difference, starting with your lovely gardens, and canning and the wildlife in your woods.. you are already changing your little corner for the better! c

  9. we can only do the best we can, progress a step at a time, set an example for our children and encourage our friends to do the same. Little by little we WILL make a difference. I love this post from start to where it took you – and your readers, too.

    • Wow, thank you Roger, it means an awful lot to me to hear that from you. I don’t know what to say. Thank you.. c

  10. You are right, so right in every word of your thoughts… I think as you… But of course, I am living in another geography and nothing is easy to explain what’s going on in here… But you said so nicely,…. Dear Cecilia, your photographs are amazing too… You are so nice. Thank you my beautiful lady, Have a nice weekend, with my love, nia

  11. A very well written piece that described quite well why we should all set goals. An aimless life is a rather pointless one.

  12. And so hard for me to keep remembering my goals too , (especially the brave bit) When i give myself a kick in the pants and redirect – i get so much more achieved.. thanks Mrs Misk.. c

  13. You know when a quiet person explodes that there is some serious stuff going on within them…some stuff that must be spoken. How lovely that you have each other to be able to vent/share duties/share ideas/work together. May your farm be blessed with sustainability and overflow with love…and veggies.

    • It was a very interesting moment for me gretchen, it was like.. “have you been thinking this all the time?” he had hit the core.. He is a thinker not a talker.. c

  14. This is such a moving credo, Dearest. I can’t imagine anyone could say it more clearly or beautifully, and as all of our friends here have said, it’s a passion we all share, even if–as YOU said–we must each do it very much in our own ways.

    Your tale of life as a housekeeper reminds me of one of the few ‘reality TV’ experiences I’ve really admired, “Dirty Jobs” ( Haven’t seen it in some time, but we used to watch it fairly often because, though the premise was in part to entertain-by-gross-out and humor based on that, the show was always designed to teach us about the multitude of Invisible tasks and people that keep the world on an even keel and make other ordinary people’s lives tenable in ways we don’t even imagine. I liked both this show’s introduction to the technical, unknown and misunderstood aspects of so many things we take for granted but more especially, the clear respect and admiration inherent in it for the tremendously hard-working and unsung people who perform all of these jobs that the rest of us would hesitate or even fear to do. True heroes and heroines, all.

    And as you have so eloquently pointed out here, it’s up to us to figure out what our own calling is in this life and stand up for it. I’m still trying really hard to suss that one out! Thanks for the inspiration.

    • I have worked as a cleaner on and off, in different guises and it is a wonderful job really. very grounding if you will excuse the K.I. pun. I don’t think we need to know where we are going to END UP or what we are going to DO. Life is a journey not a destination. My thoughts are more about “am I on the right track” is this where i want to be heading.. so never worry about not sussing it out or finding your calling. Go ahead and DO the calling! Nike says all this stuff SO much better. thank you too.. I always look forward to your comments.. you are a wonderful writer.. c

  15. My first reaction was “someone must have really pi$@ed her off.” And I do think it is a right thing to get pi$@ed off, especially if your anger will turn into passion and will keep you doing what you decided is right for you.Especially at Monsanto.
    I guess if everybody does their bit, we will be fine.
    It is sad that people see you through the job you are doing. or do not see you. I worked at a little pretentious coffee shop where customers were very picky and demanding, yet ask for more mocha in their drink (they certainly were not referring to mocha beans.) Even before working there I had never been a fussy customer, but after I try to go an extra mile to be nice to a service person.Not condescending,just nice.
    You are brilliant, as usual.

  16. I know what you mean. Don’t you want to turn to those mean bags and say “I am sorry was that a thank you I heard or maybe a Please?”.. c

  17. I love that- do it because it’s right. I too am tired of the fear-mongering. I don’t want to save the world, but I do want to make my little part of it a nice place to be, because I like it that way. Another fantastic piece. I love reading your blog!

    • You do it .. you and rumpy, you have created a voice for cats and dogs bringing to light something important.. that we can do better, that we need not despair, that good people are out there..doing the right thing c

  18. I was going to call it a “rant” (in a very positive way) but Kathryn’s right, it’s a credo. I love that you are doing what’s right… if more of us just go day to day doing what’s right the world might be able to take care of itself. You are inspiring, c:) It is comforting knowing you’re out there somewhere on your farm… I am quiet and blow up when something really near and dear to my heart is threatened… in fact it happened this week! I couldn’t get over how upset I was!

    • well it was a little rantish but you know sometimes we need it.. I hope you are feeling better.. i read your blog today, you are such a lovely writer.. sometimes I think we are hit by something, sometimes big, sometimes small on top of big and it is the Straw and we just cry for it ALL.. Just lay down and cry.. I know this feeling.. keep in touch.. c

  19. Hear, hear!

    It’s always great to read a writer whose voice you can see and *feel* come through the pages. And I always feel that with you.

  20. I ‘m here and I’ve read your posts, in fact I’ve been reading them all but they appear in my email as complete stories and so I read them there and forget to come over and comment. I’ve enjoyed them all this week, the mysterious light switch was just wonderful and this one is very special too. xx Joanna

    • Thank you Joanna, I must have a look and see why the posts come in complete like that. Another box that needs reticking.. Lovely to see you and love that you are reading.. have a great weekend.. c

  21. There is right and wrong in this world! Just think if everyone just did what was right, how much better off we and this world would be! As a service type person I appreciate all the doers in our world. We have too many deciders, sitting on their keesters and not enough doers.
    Thanks for this post…you’re right!
    Fight the fright as a knight with might to do what’s right…no flight!
    Don’t be a blight, not meant to slight, keep that outta sight!
    So let’s all get tight, shine the light and be bright!
    Okay I’m done…good night! 🙂

  22. Once, during an extended visit by my slovenly step-daughter, our domestic worker remarked sadly to me “She doesn’t see me, Ma’am”. Your post really resonated with me this morning, thank you!

    • Oh you have a slovenly step daughter too?.. How does this happen I wonder. Tell your housekeeper that I know how she feels.. c

  23. So much to respond to in this, C. One thing that spoke to me was ‘safe, brave , useful’. Choosing three (or more) words to describe our vision is activating and powerful. It’s something to carry as a lodestone for our deeds.

    • Brave is the hard one, Brave is the one I have to work on.. In the olden days i would have embroidered and framde these words and hung them on the kitchen wall!! thank you Annie.. c

  24. Celi I can see from the number of comments that so many people agree with you and support your words (which are incredible and amazingly written by the way). I am so wholeheartedly “with” you on this. And people don´t have to farm like you, or live in the mountains like me to make that little bit of difference in their own way. You´re right, we can´t save the world, but we can help our little piece of it and if lots and lots of people did their own little bit in their own little way – well, what a world it would be.

    • very true and the wonderful thing is that there are lots of people dragging themselves up and out of the apathetic mire and realising that it is not just big industrial factories and mono culture farming that is at fault. We can empower what we have control over. Ourselves.

  25. what true words! We all need to do what is right for us – hopefully that way, all will be right with the world 🙂

    • Knowing what we are doing to help works.. and i think the world is going to be alright! Look at all the people leaving responses here, all of us are helping in our own ways.. c

  26. You are truly an inspiration Cecilia! I loved this entry so much and your story from the hospital. So many look but they don’t necessarily see!

  27. Finally getting to catch up on your blog now, been busy the last few days. Thank you C for being someone who leads by example – the most (and only) effective form of leadership there is. Your writing is always uplifting and I know I am not the only person who is encouraged by what you write (everything from your sparkling humour to deeper dives into things that are obviously closer to your heart). x

    • Mel that is a wonderful thing to say. We all do what we need to do in our own corners. Now remember to put your feet up every now and then. hope you had a great weekend.. c

  28. Beautiful pictures, both visual and word…Now I am longing to see you in your original green nylon scrubs.., But, you already painted a perfect picture for me…as always.
    bless you

  29. We can all only do what we can. Like you, we try to do what we think is right for us, but as you say, what is right for us isn’t always right for someone else. So I try not to judge, but I’m also overjoyed when I find someone who views the world in a similar way…thank you. 🙂

  30. An excellent post, written with so much passion! I’m doing my little bit to make ‘right’, even if it’s not as much as you can do!! Thanks for sharing your thought, c.

  31. Your theme makes me think of a line from a Robert Frost poem – Home is the place that when you go there, they have to take you in.

    I always liked the sound of that. I’m not sure why your theme reminds me of that line, just that it does.


  32. What a powerful and truthful post. I have a feeling I will be thinking about this for quite a while to come – and that is a very good thing.

  33. Good for you. I’m glad there are folks like you working your land and being mindful how you do it. May each of us find our way to work with our little corner of Earth so it is beneficial to both.

  34. Pingback: A Well-Turned Phrase | Lura's Grandchild

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