(Written for my column in Page Seven Magazine)
Whenever I find myself doing dishes in the sink with too much passion, I know that I am sorting through some issues in my head. I scrub away at the oil and grime, and feel a wonderful sense of healing as I see them go down the drain leaving a clean, soaking wet dish in my hand. Does that sound weird? When I announced that I love washing dishes, many people offered to have me live with them. I think I should not dismiss this as an idea, because I already sort of function in the gift economy mode, trading food for work, work for work, etc. But this may not be the appropriate place to go into what transactions I engage in on an everyday basis.
One of my friends tells me that spending time weeding in her garden gives her that sense of healing. I know she really means it. A couple of days ago, I finished watching two movies on the internet while she was lost to the world, bent to the earth in her backyard, weeding away. To each her own, I guess. I have not done much gardening in my life. My mother used to have a beautiful rose garden, and she took great delight in taking care of them, talking to them, thanking them for their colour, fragrance and abundance. Sometimes, if a plant was dying, she would go to it several times a day and speak to it very gently. And my therapy was vicarious, in that I found great healing and love just watching her talk to the plants.
I talk to gadgets all the time, if that counts. The first printer I had at home was a great conversationalist, but not a very compassionate one. When I had to print out several drafts of my Masters dissertation, I spoke to my printer more than I spoke to my parents or friends. One day, when I was in the middle of a passionate plea to my printer to let me print a few pages before it started wheezing and whining, the phone rang. It was my dissertation supervisor who already had strong misgivings about my sanity. When she heard me shout at the printer, she took pity on my condition and extended the deadline for the submission of the draft. She saw it as emotional disturbance that warranted compassion.
Another task I love is ironing clothes. It is especially so when I have issues to sort out, which is, actually, all the time, but sometimes I don't sort them out. I just let them gain weight and sink beneath the surface so that I can go on with my life. But, of course, they resurface soon with vengeance, and it is not pretty sight. So let's not go there.
But when I do iron clothes, I really get into it. I feel like I am ironing out the creases from my life. It is a wonderful feeling. Of course, when I said this to friends, they were like, "Oh you can iron our clothes, if you want more healing." But that's the thing - it was only recently that I learnt to stick to ironing the wrinkles out of my clothes alone. Others' clothes are their business. They might actually be going for the creased and crinkled look. You never know.
Back to the dishes. It is amazing how quickly they pile up. You want to clean them all before you go to bed, so that you can wake up to a clean sink in the morning and feel like a success in life. But you give into the sloth that comes after that terrific dinner, and go to bed right after that second glass of wine. When you wake up the next morning and come to the kitchen for some coffee, there the dirty dishes are, piled up like the easy debris of your weak will and determination, mocking you.
Should I be going for therapy? Please tell me it is normal to go through these emotions, that some of you can relate to this madness. Help me out here, please!