There’s a line from the film Return to Me (Hunt, 2000) that goes, “I am blessed with work.”
I’ve been thinking on these words a lot this new year, as I make attempts to both do and be more. More cooking, more reading, more cleaning, more writing. I’d been looking at my habits, and saw a life shaped around inactivity, rest, and dreams. The best parts of the day were doing-nothing and going-to-bed.
Surprise, surprise: this cultivation of sloth led to exhaustion, boredom, and an unhealthy amount of time playing Minecraft. I had to ask myself whether or not I wanted anything more out of life than potato chips, video games, and naps when I wasn’t at either job. I looked around my home – my real home, not my Minecraft home (which is adorable, by the way) – and there was so much to do. Dirty dishes piled in the sink. Baskets and baskets of laundry that hadn’t been folded in weeks. A fridge full of ingredients that needed to be cooked into meals before they went bad. Stacks of books waiting to be read. Empty pages that needed filling.
All these things, and I didn’t want to do any of them. This total lack of interest struck me as peculiar. I mean, household chores aren’t exactly a rollicking good time, but they’re not torture. And reading and writing has always been an important part of my life. But, looking back at the past winter – at the habits I’d built, at what I’d taught my brain to expect and enjoy – it seemed obvious that I’d not want to do anything. I’d spent months taking pleasure in time off, in staying home, in avoiding errands and effort and anything that even vaguely resembled work.
But there is joy in work. If I had trained my brain out of enjoying things it used to take pleasure in, maybe I could train it back into better habits. (Always harder, but possible, I think.)
I folded my laundry. I like the smell of clean clothes. I like looking in the closet and seeing my good shirts hanging up so they don’t wrinkle, neatly sorted by season and color.
I did the dishes. I like that I am the only dishwasher in the kitchen. I like that there’s a big window above the sink, looking out into the neighborhood. I like that when I take care of the dishes before the Husband gets to them, I won’t have to wonder where he put my pots and pans and favorite utensils.
I cleaned out my fridge, and I made delicious food. I love delicious food. Potato soup and chicken pot pie and baked macaroni and cheese and shepherd’s pie and tacos-in-pasta shells. I love looking at something I made and then getting to eat it.
I chose a book to read and read it, and it made me smile. I like books. I like starting a new book. I like rereading an old book. I like underlining ideas and turns of phrase and scribbling responses in the margins. I like coming across old thoughts of years-ago-me, and seeing if me-now still agrees.
I scrubbed the shower and drove to the grocery store and got my hair cut. I looked for new recipes to learn. I cleaned up my messy study. I went to the library. I went for a walk. I finished another chapter of rough draft, even though I didn’t feel like it.
I did things. I made things. I like doing and making. I like having done and having made. I like having something to write about, in the journal my mother gave me for Christmas.
The joy in work is different than the joy in rest. And I do love rest. But maybe I can find joy in work more often, now?
A week ago, while eating breakfast and drinking coffee in morning sunshine, I came across this ad in a magazine:
I found that last bit (“A Clean, Easy garden With No Work!”) puzzling. I don’t do much gardening, but I have fond memories of helping my mother (kind of) in her garden:
Of course the point of a garden is the fruit and the vegetables and getting to cook and eat and can and such. But some of my enjoyment of gardening stemmed from the work itself. The feel of crumbly, sun-warmed earth between your toes as you plant corn. The smell of the tomato plants when you pick Sweet 100s. The dirty, sweaty satisfaction of uprooting weeds with your bare hands.
Something about the idea of a clean, easy garden with no work makes me sad. But it helps propel me. It makes me ask, “What can I do? What do I want to do? What do I need to do? How can I want to do what I need to do?”
It helps me remember that I am blessed with work. My home. My household. My jobs. My books.
And hey! This blog. =]
May you find blessing in your work today.