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Doing the Floors

There is nothing boring in life except ourselves. The most humble work does not have to be boring. I remember Madame Duval, the old woman who cleaned the floor in my place in Gargenville. I think of her with profound respect and reverence. She was 80 years old. One day she knocked at my door and said, “Mademoiselle, I know you don’t like to be disturbed, but the floor, come and see it; it shines!”

In my mind, Stravinsky and Madame Duval will appear before the Lord for the same reason. Each had done what he does with all his consciousness. When I said this to Stravinsky, who knew Madame Duval, he said, “How you flatter me, for when I do something, I have something to gain. But she, she has only the work to be well done.”

Nadia Boulanger, pianist and teacher, in Wisdom for our Time, edited by James Nelson (Norton)

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