February 10, 2011 | File under: Advice and Lessons
I used to have a very stressful job. I was a lawyer. Each day was a battle. Against adversaries. Against difficult supervisors. Against myself, battling the dread I felt towards my work. I was in a constant defensive state, preparing myself for the next awful assignment, the next unpleasant phone call, the next mean email.
To cope with the stress of my job, I sought refuge in simple things. Coming home to enjoy a slow dinner with my husband. Going for runs and listening to the repetitive sounds of my feet and breath while appreciating the beautiful sights around me. Wrapping myself in a blanket and knitting stitch after stitch, watching it become a scarf. And, oddly enough, standing in front of a sink full of dishes, swishing away food remnants with almond-scented bubbles. With these actions, I claimed small victories in my daily battles.
Thankfully, that stressful time in my life has ended, and I’ve begun a new, and considerably less defined, chapter in my life. Instead of the dread I used to feel, I face each new day with excitement and appreciation. I find even more fulfillment in those simple things I used to cling on to for dear life, knowing now that activities such as washing the dishes and cooking a healthy meal for my husband and me contributes to our overall quality of life, which has definitely improved since I left my job as a lawyer.
So while some people dread tackling a pile of greasy pans and streaked dishes (without a dishwasher, I might add), I am ever grateful for that time each day, knowing the dishes will not order me into the office on a weekend or compose an email in all caps. As I stand there, I mostly space out as my hands handle the repetitive work, my mind jumping from one thing to another. Is it weird that I have never obtained the same calmness of mind through yoga as I do in my purple dish gloves?
There is a lovely little book that is full of wonderful reflections on simplicity called Wabi Sabi: The Art of Everyday Life, and this one quote resonates with me deeply:
“The ordinary acts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest.”