Laundry at the Beach

We cleansed our condo. One of those cleanings, the ones that leave your home a fresh sanctuary and palate for life.

I was struck by a memory of my hard-working mom saying, “There are a few things I can do: the cleaning, the laundry, and the driving.” A woman of many skills, she said this often, because at least 4 loads of dirty laundry piled up every single day! Every day, every day. With 5 kids, it was never over, but she did it because, for life in the family to keep working, it needed doing.

I am not so gracious; I quickly become a vexed experts at the daily chores of my life, a begrudging master of the ordinary.

I read from a monk this week who understood that much of our lives are spent getting tasks out of the way in order to get to real life: enjoyment and peace.

Scrub the toilet so you can finally sink into your couch with a cup of tea.

Do the dishes so you can run out the door for a cocktail. Get through! Get 'er done!

However, if I harshly and spastically scrub the toilet, how will I suddenly calm down and onto this sacred place on the couch? This revered monastic said we will never find peace in that cup of tea if we don’t also find it in the simple, mundane duties of the day.

What a refreshed idea: to soak into our chores because they can be a spiritual and useful practice - a place to connect - instead of rushing frantically through to the other side. The chores are our lives; the mopping, dishes, laundry, garbage duty and re-organizing. There is so much that is unknown, uncertain, but you know that when you start with a mop and bucket you will walk away from a sparkling floor. Satisfaction. Job well done.

After hearing my mom talk about her daily cycles of cleaning and laundry for years – chores that are never done – I decided to make at least one of them a bit more enjoyable for her. I took a seashell from her favorite beach, put her grainy laundry detergent in a blown glass gar, and offered for her to visit the beach every time she walked to the washer. Dipping her shell into the sands, she provided clean clothes for her five children, and made an ordinary task a moment to enjoy.

(Flying a kite at the beach I mentioned, Oregon Coast, 2008)

For me, it was buying a cute pair of green rubber gloves.

What will make your daily tasks more enjoyable? Why not slow down a bit and make them a conscious, satisfying, slow part of your day?

1 comment:

  1. What an important part of life. Your beach laundry is an amazing and inspired idea.

    I have been able to find joy in letting my young children help. Even if that just means opening the door and waiting to flush the toilet when I'm done scrubbing. Although it can take 5xs as long, I will let them push the vacuum as well.

    "When we're helping, we're happy."