I was emptying the dishwasher earlier today (Monday) and the thought occurred to me “oh, I hate emptying the dishwasher”. Occasionally, little events like this get the philosophical part of my brain going. There was nothing special about the dishwasher. I could have been refilling my pill minder with all the daily vitamins and supplements I take and catch myself inwardly grumbling about that. Or folding laundry. Or doing dishes.
What all of these activities have in common is that they make up the part of our lives that consist of mundane repetitious tasks. There’s nothing exciting about emptying a dishwasher or folding laundry. Do you know that we spend most of our day attending to mundane things? Like sleeping, using the bathroom, preparing food, picking up after oneself, doing laundry, paying bills, feeding the animals, vacuuming, doing dishes, etc. All just the normal part of doing life.
There’s a part of us (or at least some of us) that wish to rage against this machine. We yearn for excitement. The entertainment and advertising industries are built upon convincing people that there is something they are missing or they don’t get enough excitement. I consider this to be a societal ill. In fact, I think there are societal causes for the current epidemic of depression and I believe this is one of them. The message that is relentlessly broadcast to people is “You don’t have enough _____ in your life” or “You aren’t ____ enough.” This leaves many of us feeling rather shortchanged or bored or restless or discontented. That is, of course, only if we choose to buy into this way of thinking.
The fact of the matter is, we all have to do the mundane stuff ourselves, unless of course one happens to be wealthy enough to pay other people to do some of these things. And let’s not forget those who are too incapacitated to do certain things for themselves. I can grumble about having to empty the dishwasher, but then I remember that having a dishwasher saves me from having to do dishes by hand. Even if I had to do dishes by hand, the fact that I have hot running water coming into my home puts me into an elite class by the majority of the world’s standards. The fact that I live in a house with a kitchen with modern conveniences or that I live in a house built to “code” out of durable materials instead of cobbled together cardboard and corrugated metal leaves me no quarter for complaint.
Whenever I catch myself grumbling about paying the bills, it occurs to me: I have heat! I have clean water! Someone picks up my garbage. (That reminds me: time to roll the garbage to the curb.)
What’s wrong with my life? Not much. I am BLESSED beyond belief. Do I have everything I want? No, but considering all that I have, what is it that I want that I really need? Again, not much. How many of my unmet expectations are driven by external messages? Probably most of them. The machine I should rage against is not the predictability of a normal life but rather the system that incites insatiable consumption and discontent.
All this pondering leads me to these conclusions: I am blessed. I am content. I am grateful.