07 Jun 2016

The Zen of Laundry

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I may not be the perfect husband; however, I discovered one of the ways to maintain our happy marriage, which is going into its 3rd decade, has been not to question my wife about doing my laundry..   I learned that invaluable lesson, week one into saying “I do.”   And as a result of me asking with a teeny hint of critiquing, began the campaign of me washing my own underwear and anything else that was indestructible.  You see, I’m not good at doing the laundry, so items had to be readily replaceable by making a quick purchase at Costco.  All the rest of my clothing was taken to my favorite dry cleaners.  It’s not that my wife wouldn’t have done the washing when I asked her to, in fact, she does it now, but back then I stupidly compared her laundry skills to my Grandmother’s who had made washing and ironing an art form worthy of being housed in a museum.  I also made the verbal misstep of blaming her for my missing socks, which between me and you, to this day, some 20 plus years later I’m convinced she does on purpose.

When I think of the money I’ve spent over the last 20 plus years on laundry services, I could have purchased a Turbo Porsche.  However, it has been a bargain and worth every penny.   The alternative could have been a divorce or worse yet, the silent treatment, with stares of resentment that only a woman can give.  You know “the look!”  The look states that treacherous plans are being plotted.

The funny thing about laundry is that no matter how much you do, it’s never done.  There is no end and seemingly no beginning to the process of laundering and in many ways this simple mundane task parallels the circumstances and events in our lives.  The process of sorting, filtering and making manageable loads is much the same as life.  In both large and small decisions that impact our lives we have a choice in how to view them.  It’s either a worthless act or an opportunity to express the highest version of who we are or are evolving to be.

Look at it this way; I have two of the nicest Labrador dogs on the planet, Maggie and Winston.  Every morning at the crack of dawn they start whining and stamping their little webbed feet for someone, me, to feed them.  When I’m being the person I want to be, I see their pure joy and single minded focus on being fed and running around in the yard as a source of personal joy and happiness. It places me squarely in the moment and creates a feeling of gratitude.  However, when it’s Saturday, my only day to sleep in, and I still have to get up and feed those 100 pound hair balls, I don’t always feel as cheerful, present or grateful as I’d like to be.  It took me a while, but I cracked the code as to why I feel this way.  I’m very angry that the kids don’t do this for me on Saturday morning…are they really that ungrateful?

Where am I going with this?  I’m reminded of the original movie, “Karate Kid.”   If you were alive in the 80’s, old enough to go the theater and lived in America, you probably saw the movie.  Essentially, a teenager gets attacked by some karate students.  An old martial arts master takes the beat up kid in and teaches him karate through a series of seemingly unrelated tasks i.e. painting the fence, waxing cars and sanding the deck.  After what seemed like weeks the kid freaks out and yells at Miyagi “the master” that he doesn’t understand what any of the chores have to do with learning karate.  At which point, Miyagi demonstrates how each chore directly corresponded to real Karate moves, proving to him that all of the practice and discipline was leading to his next step.

Does the repetitiveness of your life seem pointless or like the never ending pile of laundry waiting to be done?  Is there a way to re-frame how you are feeling by using your current life experiences to move you to your next level?  Yes there is and it called your imagination!  You can use your unlimited imagination to rewrite the script for anything going on in your life.  You get to write and film the event the way you want it to be.  You get to write the ending, which could include stopping all actions that don’t serve you in a positive way.

Using your imagination is about conscious recognition of what works for you and what doesn’t.  Then taking what works for you and creating new insight that support you in mapping your journey forward.   By doing this you can experience a new perspective on an old situation by connecting the new dots, then you get to choose if you want to move forward in your life.   Einstein said “Imagination is more important than knowledge.  For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”  Use your imagination to envision your future and then do something.  Take action!

In “Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business” by Charles Duhigg, he stated that “the choices that are most powerful in generating motivation, in other words are decisions that do two things:  They convince us we’re in control and they endow our actions with larger meaning.” Further, “all we can do is learn how to make the best decisions (choices) that are in front of us, and trust that, over time, the odds will be in our favor.”

What this means for me is to ensure I make that extra call, or send that email and incessantly follow up, day after day, after day.  My goals and aspirations give me the energy and motivation to endlessly pursue getting results even when it seems like nothing is happening and the repetitiveness of my actions seem pointless or like the never ending pile of laundry waiting to be done.

When a seed is planted in the earth growth must occur before it erupts through the surface giving the first tangible sign that it’s happening. With all things that we want in life with consistency and discipline it then becomes only a matter of time.  We must know, believe and trust that it’s happening; I believe, know and trust that it has happened.  Create the indelible stamp on your mind using your unlimited imagination.  See it and feel it, hear it…know without a doubt what it’s like to have everything you’ve ever wanted.

Clean underwear and doing laundry seems to be a great place to start.