You know those movies, where the teenagers are all hanging out at a camp or at a friend’s house and then suddenly: THEY HEAR A NOISE? From the deepest corners of the house, a noise that is clearly not human and not mechanical. A noise that says something is seriously wrong.
One brave soul (usually dressed in a really tight cheer leading uniform) goes to investigate, and opens the basement door.
“Don’t do it!” we yell! DO. NOT. GO. DOWN. THERE!
But she always does. She goes down there, and what happens?
She gets chopped up into tiny pieces.
Why can’t she just look away? Run? Hide?
Well, that wouldn’t be much of a movie now, would it?
The funny thing is, in real life, I think we often do look away. We do run. We do hide. But in the end, those monsters in the basement get us anyway.
Because my friends, the monsters are us.
They are our childhood dreams, turned into resentment at lost opportunities. They are our life’s disappointments, turned into anger that things didn’t work out differently. They are our missed opportunities, turned into fear that no more opportunities exist.
In the movies, there is always scary music to let us know that danger lurks below. In life, though, there is no scary music to tell us to when those monsters are about to attack. They lurk for years in our psychological basements until they grow so big and powerful that we cannot ignore them any longer. And by then, it is often too late.
Who knew I could turn a simple organizational project into a metaphor for the darkest parts of my own psyche?
Seriously, I think that we should all be in the discipline of cleaning out our basements – literally and figuratively – more regularly. We shouldn’t wait until the basement is so out of control that it is unmanageable. We should face it, regularly, so that it is not such a big f*ing deal.
In addition to enjoying an organized pantry and a workbench free of clutter, these past weeks of spending time with my basement monsters has provided me with some incredibly useful insights and lessons. It has been painful and a bit scary. It has definitely not been pretty. But I am still whole. And I don’t need to run and hide. AND, I have a clean basement.