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Monday, February 22, 2016

In Praise of Silence, Solitude and Wondering

I spend a lot of time, it seems, doing time consuming, solitary tasks that have been automated out, or left by the wayside, of typical modern day life. I wash dishes by hand, I hang laundry on the lines outside, heck I have even been known to iron (and not just to press seams when I am sewing!) 

These are tasks that, as a child, were shared with me by my mom and which, as a mom, I enjoyed doing with my daughters (note to those with sons: I had 5 daughters, but had there been sons as well, they would also have been involved, as my daughters were when I changed the oil and did other routine car mechanics.) Mom and I sang (I hear her low voice coming out of my throat now when I sing "You Are My Sunshine;" my young soprano voice is long gone) and I cherish memories of those days.

These days, though, the "routine tasks of yesteryear" are accompanied by contemplation, observation, wondering and thought. I believe these to all be necessary to a full life, and I wonder -- often -- how and where the modern gal manages to fit them in. For most, it seems, dishes are a quick rinse and pass through the machine. Laundry is taken care of by machines as well, and involves little human interaction beyond folding. And I won't even mention ironing!  Add the ubiquitous "mobile device"  to the elimination of the longer routine chores and I can only conclude that time for the mind to wander have been all but eliminated by the changes that have taken place. Even time at the gym, commutes and long walks or runs are accompanied by electronic audio input if not video.

I am not going to sit here and write a whining missive about days gone by, but I AM going to say how much the unaugmented brain wanderings add to my life.

Washing dishes yesterday got me to thinking about all this, and hence this post. I was, much of the time that I washed, wondering about wondering and thinking about the wonder of the natural world that I am immersed in by my chosen lifestyle.

I love hanging out the wash year round! Yes, even when the temperature is below freezing, things dry. Yesterday, even though there was dampness in the morning air (some of it falling from time to time, as a barely felt mist) the brisk winds made the clothes get dry. Because I try to keep a cycle of weekly laundry (yes, the 'old days' habit again!) I keep one eye on the forecast, not just for temperature or in search of (in my opinion, over-appreciated) sunny days... but for humidity and forecast precipitation as well. Hanging out in the morning and judging when to return to the lines in the afternoon gives me a more concrete awareness and appreciation of the changing day length than any calendar or chart.

And I love thinking random thoughts as my mind wanders its own paths during dishwashing or the half hour drive to and from town. And no, I do not recall ever, in my life, having been bored.