I am folding a shirt, wondering how many times I have washed it, folded it, put it away. It's a favorite of my husband's, and I know I'll be standing here folding it again in about 36 hours.
He is drying the cast iron pan he uses to cook our eggs every morning. He'll do it again tomorrow, and again the day after that.
Our daughter is setting out the vitamins for each of us. She opens bottles, counts pills, puts them in the same little glass ramekins she did yesterday.
There are so many things to do in a day just to make life go. Sometimes I think, "MY GOD! Look at all the big things people are making happen in the world. Are they REALLY making time to brush their teeth, too?! Twice a day?! HOW?"
As we rush headlong into making art, making relationships, making something of ourselves, the material requirements of life can seem like they're in the way.
Sure, we can reduce the upkeep time required in our lives by having less stuff. If you have some extra cash, you can hire some of it out. But it doesn't go to zero.
And so we wonder . . .
Is it okay that I'm cleaning out the refrigerator instead of playing music?
Is it okay that I'm going to the grocery store instead of writing my book?
Is it okay that I'm washing dishes instead of designing a garden?
When I am convinced that I'm the only person I know putting groceries away instead of making something amazing, I have to think of creative people I care about very specifically. I think of my photographer sister unloading the dishwasher and putting all the stuff that isn't dry out on the counter. And a faraway musician friend jamming folded laundry in his son's dresser drawers. And the graphic designer Board member who returned my call saying, "I'm sorry I didn't hear the phone ring. I was cleaning the bathroom."
I picture them, knowing that they don't have naked families and they don't eat on dirty dishes and they somehow feed small dependent people, and I am soothed.
You may feel a bit lonely folding that shirt, but you are not alone.
We're all doing laundry.
PS: Thank you to the reader who inspired me to finish this post, instead of leaving it to languish in draft-land. She's an incredible writer. She's fabulous on stage. And she, too, is doing laundry. She sent me a photo to prove it.