I Can See Clearly Now…How Household Chores Can Help Provide Clarity in Our Lives
“We are involved in a life that passes understanding and our highest business is our daily life.”
– John Cage
In last week’s blog, I wrote about procrastination and how difficult it can be to get everything done that needs to get done…in a day, a week, a lifetime. I suspect, however, that what many people struggle with is the seemingly simple act of prioritizing.
We know how important it is to put first things first and get the most important task (often the most difficult, the most daunting or the least enjoyable one) done first in the day. But determining which task is top priority is often not as easy as it seems. For what may be the most important task to you might not be anywhere near the top of the list for the people you live with and/or work with. But that’s not what this blog is about!
This blog is about the never-ending household chores that need to get done – the tidying, cleaning, dusting, vacuuming, laundry, grocery shopping, cooking, dishes, gardening, etc – and how we can balance all those with the other tasks that are really important to us, such as pursuing our dreams and goals and life’s purpose (finding or fulfilling it).
A couple of weeks ago, I tackled three long-overdue household chores: washing all the windows in my home, getting up on the roof and cleaning all the debris from my eaves troughs and then, using a scrub brush attached to the garden hose, cleaning the outside of the eaves troughs. As usual, these tasks took me far longer than anticipated but I must confess to rather enjoying the process – for the first time ever.
Part of this was because I appreciated the physical labour; a much-needed change from my regular work, which is so sedentary. Another reason, though, was that I was able to remind myself how incredibly blessed I am to have a home with windows and gutters to clean – for many people on the planet don’t.
After I’d finished the last task – washing the outside of the eaves with the hose and scrub brush – I was drenched. So I changed into dry clothes and walked down the street to my local Thai restaurant for dinner. While waiting, I picked up the newspaper and read how refugees from Iraq are leaving their dead babies behind – because they’d died of thirst.
I did not escape my attention that here I’d been using precious water to clean my eaves troughs while people on the other side of the world were literally dying of thirst. Granted, me not cleaning my eaves troughs wouldn’t have changed their reality – but the very least I could do was take a moment to be grateful for all that I have in my life in Canada.
The next day, when I returned to the task of rewriting my Saviour play script, something in me had shifted. I was able to cut unnecessary dialogue in several scenes and get straight to the point. Had cleaning my windows helped give me clarity? Possibly. Had removing all the old debris from my gutters help clear out old thoughts that were cluttering up my thinking? Maybe.
What I do know is that all the different tasks I choose to do in a day seem to be connected – although I usually don’t know how or why. I just have to show up and do each task to the best of my ability – and be thankful that I live in a place where I can.
Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening and the upcoming book, Barrier Removed; A Tough Love Guide to Achieving Your Dreams. Maryanne also writes screenplays and play scripts, including the play, Saviour. She is the CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and the Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund.