There is no clothes drying appliance in my house. Rather, our clothes dryer sits in the backyard–four lines stretched between two leaning metal posts with crossbars. And this dryer, which occasionally in tandem with the weather is the bane of my housekeeping existence, is also a saving grace. Well, “saving” might be a tad dramatic.
When I was post-partum (this happened to me four times) I remember ruefully laughing to myself that it was the laundry, forcing me out of the house into the sunshine several times each week, that might be keeping me sane in the ups and downs of life with a newborn. That still seems true many days.
Outside of my house–away from the radio, the sometimes-bickering children, and all the other chores that are patiently waiting to be done–I get a chance to breathe a little deeper.
I find a rhythm.
Pick up shirt/pants/towel. Snap vigorously to dislodge wrinkles. Pin to line. Repeat.
My senses attune to the environment. I hear birds, and often pause a moment to locate them and find out what they’re up to. The sunshine warms my skin. Wind cools it. Just down the bank cheerful burbling sounds of the creek rise to my ears. I take in the trees, noting changes in colors and quantities of leaves. I am forced to track the weather if I want my dryer to work efficiently.
I recognize how fortunate I am that these are the surroundings into which I step through my back door. There is all this mostly-peaceful space to let my mind roam in. Some days I’m giving mental vent to some angst I’ve been carrying (weeding in the garden is also an excellent opportunity for a good venting session). Other times I work over a conversation I’ve had or ponder what to do in a social situation–hypothetical or real–that I might find myself in. I daydream stories that I rarely find/make time to write down later.
All-too-soon I near the bottom of the laundry bin. Assorted one-pin items like socks and underwear are all that’s left to keep me in this meditative space. Then finally everything is on the line, and I’m back to all the other demands of a normal day.
This year, when I’ve had plenty of “mental cud” to chew, I’ve been grateful for that forced time outdoors. This is what I need to remind myself when I’m tempted to complain about the amount of laundry that piles up for a family of six (including some children who find it necessary to change outfits multiple times a day) or the days-on-end that drying racks irritatingly crowd the living room when we’re having a rainy spell. I am grateful for laundry.
How about you? Does your regular routine yield some small space of meditative time? Washing the dishes, folding clothes, a commute to work or a long flight of stairs you navigate often? Time spent waiting for a bus . . . Wherever you find them in your day, I hope you’re able to grab these few moments!
with love, Anita