The Zen of Housework

Back in the days when I was in university, I had a part time job, cleaning house for a couple of homes off campus. It was hardly lucrative, but it supplied me with an entertainment fund (a necessity when London – the English one – is only an hour away) and an opportunity to peek inside some quaint, English homes.

But there was something else I got out of the experience – something quite unexpected. Being a university student my life – like most – tended to be a whirr of classes, study, socialization, dorm antics, and those sensory overloaded trips to London or other enviable locales. Ironing a two-foot high pile of identical white dress shirts, dusting shelves and folding laundry (notice I deliberately failed to mention cleaning bathrooms) gave my mind a chance to wander through thoughts and ideas that were otherwise crowded out with all the other thoughts and actions.

I actually came to look forward to an hour of ironing, and the places my mind could go when there was no other stimulation to distract it.

One of the ideas I thought about at the time was how important time doing mundane tasks is – not just because they must be accomplished, like it or not, but to allow our minds that down time to unfurl. After all, how are we really supposed to be creative when we’re constantly focussed on something important.

I decided, at that time, that I would not have a dishwasher someday – to ensure that I would have that moment, at least once a day (preferably more). I stubbornly stick to that, all these years later (much to Mr. Pear Tree’s chagrin, I’m sure), using our dishwasher only occasionally (when we have company, for example).

I wish I could say the creativity was waterfalling from my head as a result. The caveat is that when you have too many mundane tasks to take care of, when you’re surrounded by them and they are all your own and not someone else’s, after awhile you loose the time and ambition to act on the thoughts and ideas you might formulate and – well, I sometimes feel like they just dry up.

So now I’m thinking that it might be a good idea to hire someone – a college student, perhaps? – to come and take care of them for me so that they can have a respite from their busy world, and I can take some time to create in mine. It’s a win-win for everyone, n’est pas?

– Words and photo by Lori-Anne Poirier

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One Comment

  1. Lori, I love ironing also. My mind takes off on an adventure of recalling memories and friends I haven’t connected with for a long time. Perhaps even a sneak peak at the Christmas list of things to do. I love this quiet time when I am lost in my own world.

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