What I’m Grateful For: Washing the Dishes 

Wait a minute – I am not actually one of those people who genuinely love doing the dishes. I envy those strange creatures, those who feel joy and satisfaction from mopping up after the evening meal! For me, washing up the pots and pans is not a delight.

But I have been mulling over my upside-down gratitudes this week and as I was doing the dishes, I realized a few things that I’m deeply grateful for around “washing up”. First, it’s great to have a clean kitchen ready for my bleary eyes the next morning. That’s a lovely thing. It’s a gift I can give myself (or my kids can give to me if they are on dish duty!) It’s as much a part of a home-cooked meal as the menu plan, shopping, prep or actual cooking are.

But one more, slightly more nuanced gratitude emerged as I was elbow-deep in suds and food particles. Doing a job, any job, truly properly and completely, means attending to every aspect of it – the highs as well as the lows, the pinnacles and the lonely dim gullies. The fact of the matter is, you won’t relish the delights quite so fully if you don’t appreciate everything that goes into them. If you just sample the choice bits off the top, you become less grateful, more jaded, less aware. You become more numb. You need higher “highs” to keep that feeling. You are living a life of sensation. (More on this in the quote at the bottom!)

So I do the dishes, and I don’t relish it. But I do them anyways. And it feels pretty good when I’m done!

What I’m Reading: Back to the 12 Rules for Life by Jordan Peterson! Rule #4 – Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today.

At first glance, this sounds trite and an over-quoted aphorism found sprinkled liberally around social media. But it gets more interesting.

Back in the day, when we lived in small villages or isolated tribes, it was rather easy to become the best at SOMETHING in your world. You could be the best fish-hook carver, or the best storyteller, the best horse trainer or the best at making the ladies swoon. But in our flattened globe with the internet making practically anyone on the planet virtually right next door, it is inevitable that someone – indeed, many hundreds of someones – will be much, much better than you in anything you strive to do. That is the harsh reality of the world we are now living in.

So the key of Rule #4 (and there’s much more on it in the book, which again I urge you to read) is to look at what you WERE and pick a few spots to improve. Do that today. Maybe a bigger smile and a word of thanks to the barista. Maybe getting up earlier or lending a hand. Maybe doing the dishes with a better humor (hahahahha). What COULD you fix, what WOULD you fix? Today? Do it. Then pick another one tomorrow. Maybe your car is a mess. Maybe your marriage is a mess. Maybe you haven’t called your mom in months. Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today. And do something about it!

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What I’m Pondering: There is no shortage of good days. It is good lives that are hard to come by. A life of good days lived in the senses is not enough. The life of sensation is the life of greed; it requires more and more. The life of the spirit requires less and less; time is ample and its passage sweet. – Annie Dillard