House Warrior: Entropy Blues

Today the House Warrior faced down the Glass Bandits and the Cutlery Hordes, both of which rampage across kitchen counters and camp in sinks. How one person can use so many spoons, I’ll never know.

For now, the House Warrior reigns triumphant: but they’ll be back. They always come back.

One of the demoralizing things about house work is that it refuses to stay done. I had quite a pile-up of dishes, mugs, and silverware today, and I took the time to wash everything up and put it away. I’ve reclaimed a good bit of counter space by doing so, and actually had space to cook dinner for once. But cooking means making more dirty dishes, and pots, and forks and spoons. I was done this afternoon, all done, and now I’m not done anymore. I got most of the pots washed, but not the plate I used for my dinner, nor the forks and spoons used for cooking and eating. It seems no matter what, I always have “seed dishes” hanging around in my sink, waiting to grow the next crop of messy kitchen chaos.

A couple of different friends have quoted versions of this proverb to me before: “Before war, there is washing dishes and chopping wood. After war, there is washing dishes and chopping wood.” Some things, it seems, are simply constants. The stuff life is made up of, pleasant or not, pointless or not. I wonder what deeper meaning there may be in the constant-ness of washing dishes, but the House Warrior’s philosophy helmet is all the way over there across the room, and I’ll leave that pondering for another day.

What I’m wondering about right now is if a focus-shift may be useful, in facing down the always-returning hordes of dirty glasses and spoons. In the cosmic scheme of things, I will never be done with these daily, mundane tasks of running a household. There’s always more work to be done. So maybe looking at the cosmic scale isn’t the right place.

For a while this afternoon, I was done. I finished everything I set out to do: I washed every relevant cup, plate, and fork in my kitchen and put them away. I was done. And tomorrow, if I catch up on the leftovers from today, I’ll be done again.

I find the process of finishing things really motivating, which is why it’s demoralizing to think about a task (like washing dishes) as never ending … but what if I could think about it as an easy win, something that I can finish and check off every day, something that I can take to done on a regular basis? No matter what other ends are left dangling, what if I claimed a finish and a win for things like catching up on dishes, or dusting, or vacuuming, or folding laundry?

I wonder if claiming daily catching-up in ongoing tasks would help me build the sense of control that I lack in regards to my house, the feeling that yes, I really can keep this place in a state that I want it to be in, I can set up a home that reflects me more than an assortment of random things? I’m wondering if it will help me ditch the entropy blues, and start grooving to a more zen kind of beat when confronted with yet another sink-ful of dirty dishes?

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1 comment so far

  1. Susan Hill on

    Suddenly I feel mildly guilty ;-)


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