Room for Clarity
Roll up the rugs to uncover a more straightforward existence
On March 30, I rolled up the rugs. The grey one in the living room that my husband hosed down and then left out to dry in the sun. The red one beside the fireplace that has served every Christmas as a landing mat for Santa’s presents. That’s the same one I tried to use as an exercise mat during the first week of lockdown, before I realized it was too coarse on the elbows and full of dog hair. And then the geometric rug that I bought online to help turn a former storage room into a home office.
All three rugs were cleaned or aggressively vacuumed, and then rolled and warehoused—just in time to welcome spring and what now seems to be the enduring life of quarantine. The clear floors and un-textured spaces made way for the broom and mop. But they also served as a tool for mental housekeeping. Are there other, more symbolic sorts of carpet layering our lives? Can we roll them up to uncover a more straightforward existence?
For some of us, minimalism has optimized our taxonomy of possessions; we now unequivocally know what is essential, what brings us joy, what is irrelevant, even as we acknowledge that the objects in those categories may change over time. Perhaps we had already embraced simplicity and intentionality before COVID-19. But pulling the rug from under our feet—as the current crisis has prompted us to do—has positive effects that I think we should engage with.
Back in January, I welcomed the year as one that would provide clarity. I excitedly described it to my friends as “the year of perfect vision.” I didn’t know that three months into the year we would be forced by a global pandemic to reorganize our priorities, achieve new forms of clarity, and deep-clean our shelters, as if trying to mirror the translucency of our time in our flooring.