Friday, June 6, 2014

Why hanging the laundry might make you a better person.

I consider our home a creative abode.  Its more than just where I bring my stuff, throw my shoes down, eat some food and sleep.  Its my womb space- my place of creative exploration, my place of spiritual growth through my yoga practices-and daily practices.  My home is my testing ground for new ideas, where I make mistakes and test out my attempts to start anew. 

I also consider my home my sacred land of purity.  That ol Yogic term "Soucha".  What I am confessing  here is that I am a neat freak.  I have some OCD issues, and need my home to be pretty clean 99% of the time.   We also have children, cats and dogs (thank goodness no more fish, bunnies, and guinea pigs).  So sometimes its a battle of wills.  My will to keep my "creative womb space" pure, clean and tidy.  And my families desire to kick back and "loaf" as my eldest likes to say.  Loafing does not create an image of "purity" in my mind.  The scattered books, littered papers, clothes on the floor, and up turned pillows do not = sacred space.   So there begins a struggle.  And I recognize its really my own struggle.  Its my choice to struggle.  To their credit, my whole family (husband included) will pick up their detritus without too much nagging.  Likely because they know where it will go if it doesn't get picked up.

I like to say that you know you are still alive when there are dishes to clean and laundry to tend to.  The constant cycles in a house- they are like breathing.  Always happening, the pulsation of a home.  We do not have a dish washer, and actually NEVER have.  I like it that way.  The whole family helps out with dinner dishes.  Not always with the other meals, but we have to pick our battles here.

Recently, Josh and I decided that we should hang the laundry again.  We go through phases, diligently hanging laundry, and then we cave and just chuck everything in the dryer.  But once we got back from India this past year, where we had to hand wash our laundry in little plastic buckets and hang everything out on the communal line (I refused to hang my underwear out there.  That stayed in the bathroom on a string between two nails, and the Gecko that hung out in the bathroom, I named him Fred...).  So on our return, we decided to keep that tradition going (without Fred).  We have two collapsible clothing racks, one is wooden, and one is metal.  We worked out this great system:  Run a load every day.   That way its never overwhelming (you know what I mean, if you have a family of 4 and you do laundry once a week, yikes!).  Run the washer in the morning and hang it all before 8 AM so it has time to dry.  We discovered that the laundry will dry outside in the sun in a few hours, but will still dry by the next day when left inside in case of rain.   So there is no excuse not to hang it.  Small loads= fast hanging time (about 10-15 minutes) and then it just sits there.  Sometimes it gets left out and it rains, like a second rinse.  But mostly, the system works pretty well.

But... there are mornings where it feels like one more thing to get done in the mad morning rush.  And at times I get help with it, and then days go by at a time with no help.   It lands on me to get the laundry done over and over, day after day....and then resentment starts to seep in... like ants (?).  Why do I have to be the one to do this every day?  What if I go on strike and just stop doing the laundry.  Will someone else ever notice?  Or will they just wear stinky clothes... I may ask the girls to help hang, but they need supervision, as they like to hang all the small socks on the top line, (where the long pants should go) and crumple the clothes on the line so that they take twice as long to dry.  I harbor grumbles at my husband because he should know that I can't always just do all the housework and get the laundry hung up without help day after day.

But for some crazy reason, I still do it.  Its like a pull... some weird magnetic attraction to dirty underwear.  And I realize, that hanging the laundry might make me a better person.  I get a chance to observe my unwillingness to be cooperative, to want to go on strike (and just see what they will do if I stop doing the laundry, it might be fun to see what happens...), and step back and tell myself "Just do it and stop complaining to yourself anyway".  I put aside grumbling emotions, and like the pulsation of breath, engage in unfurling a wet clump of shirt, shaking out the garment, holding it taught to the wooden pole while I pin the shirt- like a silent space inside.  Then next wet clump, over and over, until the days clothes hang on the wooden line like wet leaves on a tree.  Hanging clothes, Breathing,  Meditating-its all the same.   Just another spiritual action in my home-womb space.