The Charm of the Chores
Updated: Dec 3, 2019
It was a conversation about household chores. We were complaining about doing the dishes when someone said something quite unexpected. She said she actually liked doing the dishes. She liked putting her hands in the warm water; she liked swishing them around to swab the dishes; she liked the gentle mindlessness of it that permitted her to wonder off and think about other things.
The conversation moved on, perhaps to vacuuming, because no one liked vacuuming. But I thought she was right about doing the dishes. That was how I felt, too. There is a simple pleasure beckoning from beneath the suds, the senuousness of the experience connecting body and soul. The body is often the way to the soul. When we take the dog for a walk, or wash our hair, or rake the lawn, or weed the garden, we tend to forget this. But it is grace, tucked away in earthenware pots. Who knew?
Yesterday I kneaded dough for the first time. I don't know how I've avoided it all these years. It was a full-on sensual experience. The dough, at first sticky and unwieldy, slowly warmed and softened. It became malleable as I folded it, pushed my palm into it, and then turned it to repeat the process, over and over.
I thought of all the bakers who had done this for generations, including my own mother. I had never fully appreciated their love, expressed in this particular way. How they had to enter into the rhythm of it, pushing into the dough from their shoulders, not just their hands. The end result was all we cared about. But now I cared about something else. The work itself that had produced it.
It was a good day, a productive day. Better than all the time I'd spent writing and worrying about what I'd written, and whether anyone was going to like it. I kneaded dough and produced bread. And then I ate the fruit of my labours. And was thankful.