Finding Joy In the Mundane

mundaneI suppose that we’ve all experienced that age old fantasy of just chucking it all one day and driving away into idealized oblivion. It’s a ridiculous dream of being totally free from any kind of responsibility, living as though there is no tomorrow. We sometimes experience a feeling of what such a lifestyle might be like when we go on a vacation trip and don’t have to cook a meal, make a bed, do laundry, report to work. We fantasize what a forever vacation might be like until we return home to bills that must be paid, appointments that must be met, work that must be done. We understand all too well that everyone has to grow up, leave Disneyland, and get back to work even as we plan the next getaway.

What if by some Twilight Zone miracle we really did find a way to rid ourselves of all those hated chores associated with daily routine and survival? What would we still agree to do every single day and what would we gladly jettison from our to do lists? Would we soon find ourselves miserable from boredom like Rod Serling characters who always seemed to belatedly realize that reality is generally better than imagined utopias?

There are things that I do with great regularity some of which I thoroughly enjoy and some which I loathe but do anyway. I mean who in their right mind likes folding and putting away clothes that have been cleaned by the lovely machines invented to lighten our loads? I have to remind myself that it wasn’t that long ago when my ancestors had few changes of clothing and cleaning the ones that they did own was a tedious job. If I tell myself that the basket of items fresh and warm from the dryer are actually representative of my good fortune, the irksome task of storing them neatly away becomes more palatable.

I don’t much care for doing dishes either, but I can count on one hand the number of times that I have gone to bed with dirty plates and pots and pans sitting in the sink. I’m obsessive about the idea of walking into a sparklingly clean kitchen when I arise each morning. I’m a bit of a grouch until I drink my morning tea and enjoy a spot of food so the thought of facing a mess before I’m even fully awake is unbearable to me. I will work until my kitchen is back in place even at the end of a big Christmas day celebration in spite of my profound dread of the project.

I know that exercising is good for me and I always feel invigorated after a good session of activity but I find the whole process to be utterly boring. I really do wish that there were some magic pill that I might take to replicate my efforts. I’ve tried teasing my mind into believing that it’s a relaxing time for reading or listening to music while I move and lift and bear weight but I’ve never been able to actually get enthusiastic about the process and I must admit to being guilty of using rather lame excuses to skip my very necessary self care whenever possible. 

Modern life is rather easy for most people in developed countries these days as compared to the past. We have machines that get us rather quickly from one place to another. We are able to listen to music anytime that we wish or communicate with people from afar. We accomplish our dreaded tasks with implements that our ancestors would have viewed as miraculous. Even ordinary folk live in better conditions than kings and queens of old and yet we  are prone to complain about the quality of our lives. I suppose that our human natures are easily dissatisfied and so like the fisherman and his wife we want to capture the magic fish that will make all of our dreams come true without any of the hard work. Like them I suspect that having the world on a silver platter is never quite as satisfying as accomplishing something through our own hard work.

I may dread getting sweaty from a brisk workout but I always feel quite good about myself when I’m done. I may hate pushing my brain beyond it’s parameters to learn something new but I swell with pride once I have mastered a difficult concept. We were made to push ourselves, to work hard, to have a purpose for rising from our beds each morning. Running away from our troubles or our routines is never the way to find nirvana. Even Wendy and her brothers realized that they had to return home to take up the tasks of becoming adults. Escape is a fantasy that brings happiness only for a limited time. Sooner or later we have to return to reality and it’s worth the effort to find ways to pleasantly accept the things that we know we must do.

I find myself being thankful all day long that I have the health to keep my home, my mind and my body in working order. Instead of feeling grumpy about my duties I think of how wonderful it is that I have incredible tools for accomplishing each task. With a little change of attitude I realize that I don’t need or want to run away from the things that I must do. I know that I am one very lucky person to live in a glorious place during an incredible time. The joy that I desire is actually found in doing all of those mundane routines that I have the ability to perform. I smile each time I think about how lucky I am.