Dust Meditation

Clare Dolan

Dust coats every surface in our homes, congeals in our nasal passages, floats across continents, settles onto the ocean floors, and rains down from the sky as a diaphanous reminder of the origins of the cosmos. The bible places it at the start and finish of everything, and science agrees: it is now understood that without a thick cloud of dust stars cannot form. More than one hundred tons of space dust falls to the earth every day. But what could be more ordinary than just. We brush it from the surfaces of everything in our homes. It gathers with the cat hair and lint under the bed and it clings to the spiders’ webs in the corners. Day to day it is difficult to keep in mind dust’s terrifying power of erasure. We don’t necessarily think of it until we see it blaneting fields and valleys after a volcanic eruption or see photographs in history books of entire farms buried alive during the Dust Bowl. 

Our contemporary thoughts about dust seem mainly to spring from the American fetish for cleanliness. It is easy to overlook the fact that links forged between poverty and drift are often encouraged by the vilification not just of the potentially disease-breeding participles but also of the poor themselves. And as we learned more about first, dust, droplets, fine particulate pollutants and the link, a vast multibillion dollar industry has grown up around devices and products that allow Americans to sweep, swab, polish, vacuum, disinfect, wipe and otherwise feed the fruistless dream of eliminating what cannot be eliminated.

Dust also marks time. Its inexorable accumulations make visible the minutes and hours and years. As our bodies age, we witness our own parts turn to dust, as joints grind away, teeth crack and wear, hair falls out and becomes brittle. Watching dust slowly circulate in a shaft of sunlight can be melancholy or transcendent, depending on the moment and the thoughts in our head. Perhaps this is because dust is essential, a basic ingredient in ever 

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