On Making my Bed
For twenty days running I have made my bed and finished the laundry. For ninety-six hours before that, my mother worked with me to put my house in order. It took ninety-six hours of constant hustling and twenty loads of laundry to fix the mess I was in. That is one hundred and ninety-two woman-hours. Now it just has to be maintained. I put my laundry baskets up on a high shelf so that I wouldn't be tempted to fold later. Each morning, I wake up and act like my hair will fall out if I don't fold and put the laundry away right now, and every morning I avert the zombie apocalypse by making my bed by 8:30. True story. You're welcome.
Then I send my mom a picture.
That is what is takes for me to form a habit. Ridiculous rules and someone to report to.
Because it is really hard to get the mundane things done. It's hard to even put them on the Todo List because...it's just laundry. I'm not going to write that down every single day. But it has to be done every single day. The inbox, the laundry, the dishes, the daily commute. It's the mundane, daily chores that are the atmosphere of our lives. They are with us always.
No one dreams of growing up and doing chores. I want to be a writer, I want to be an educator, I want to be a reader, dreamer, thinker. And I can do all of those things if...
- If there are clothes to wear.
- If there is food to eat.
- If we can find our shoes.
It is from those mundane things that a life is built. They take hours—apparently about one hundred and ninety-two hours—to complete and maintain. And what will we say about those hours? Were they wasted? Were they lost?
My only choice is how I will view this work, not whether or not I should do it.
I can't choose to not.
That is why breath is such a powerful meditative center. Your choice is how to regard it not whether or not to do it.
In the book of Romans, the twelfth chapter begins with an exhortation to consider your daily life an act of worship. The mundane: the raking of the leaves, the cleaning of the car, the folding of the laundry. This is my spiritual practice. This is my contemplation. Sure, yoga and meditation are on my daily schedule, but I often sneak in a few extra minutes of sleep instead. Sure, I intend to sit in centering prayer. Sure, I have a book of daily liturgies I mean to read.
Of course I do.
But what if the mundane became the medium through which I did those things? What do I have to lose?