Sure, it's not the most glamorous work I do. (Then again, my most glamorous work ain't all that much more glamorous.)
But Something Is Getting Done.
There is something deeply satisfying about a task where something actually gets finished.
My daily activities can be so abstract. There is nothing abstract about a stack of freshly folded laundry.
And what a modern miracle it is to use such glorious machines, crafted for just such purposes — now washing! — and now drying!
And I Am The Final Machine: Folding!
As the folder, I must be careful — not just to match the socks and deliver the right clothes to the rightful owner.
I must also be careful to maintain an attitude of happiness. I must employ what I have learned from Buddhist teachers.
Because, when I'm not careful about my attitude…
"There Sure Is A Lot Of Anger In Laundry."
Those words brought a great laugh to the Creativity In Your Life particpants at the Columbus Museum of Art recently. (Are you booked for the three occasional creativity sessions which start next Sunday?)
Perhaps you know this experience. When doing laundry, I can shift from la-de-da to what-the-heck in two shakes of a dainty brassiere:
"Just who the hell do they think I am? What are they thinking: I like standing here in the basement? That my time is less precious than theirs? That they can just throw their dirty clothes down the stairs: tee-shirts still nested in shirts, shirts still in sweatshirts? Tell me: just why am I the person to pull their socks right-side-out? Huh? Tell me."
When this is what I'm thinking during the sorting or folding of laundry, then the laundry can never become completely clean. And I end up even dirtier: a passive-aggressive folding machine. That's not healthy. And the clothes might get stretched and torn.
So I do laundry like I wash dishes: as if for the Queen (now played by Helena Bonham Carter, thank you very much). Or, as if for people every bit as dear to me as the Queen, even more: my beloved family.
When my father was at Yale, he sent his dirty laundry from New Haven, Connecticut, back to Ohio, for his mother, Bella Lowenstein Isaac.
My paternal grandmother laundered her dear boy's clothes and shipped them back — with home-baked cookies wrapped inside. Family legend has it that the postal service was so swift those days that the cookies arrived warm.
Here's to my own mother, who did so much of my laundry that it can be measured in years. (Now, my dear, you may rest assured I am doing my generational share of laundry.)
A Breath With Every Fold
Thank you for being a part of my life. Even this part! Here are your clothes, folded with love.