In The Hedgehog Review, Mary Townsend on lessons from housemaids
Heidegger remarks that we can learn from the housemaid this much: When we set out to inquire, we should first “look around thoroughly in this round-about-us.” Instead of looking off into the stars like Thales, we have to recover a sense of both heavens and earth together. We dwell as humans in the very immediate sense of the sort of buildings we put together to live in and around, that mark off the horizon; we dwell with things, the beds and tables and chairs that keep us up off the dirt. We take our fundamental orientation as humans by our residency in the world, between the temptations of the stars and the holes we might fall into. What we are not is something infinite, immortal, limitless; we are mortal, temporary, in the sense that even Achilles is temporary. Our thoughts may leap beyond mere things and dwellings into godlike musing, and so leap beyond our mortal plight; but if we could turn our thoughts back around and give attention to what is near and to dwelling itself, we might pause in our restlessness and find some peace in our day.