Presence and Dishes and Joy

"Let a joy keep you. Reach out your hands and take it when it runs by."  - Carl Sandburg

To build the house we wanted, a beautiful house of our own design, we had to make some sacrifices to make it affordable. So we sacrificed a few luxuries. Our house is small, with only one bathroom, small closets, and small bedrooms. I've been a fan of the tiny house movement for a long time, so small (not quite tiny) was easy for me to embrace.  Not all of the sacrifices have been easy, though.

Like the dishwasher.

We were given a beautiful cast iron sink from one of John's colleagues. It has big drainboards on either side, and I love it so so much.  Like, if our life were a tv show, the sink would be a main character. But the kitchen is small. So we gave up the dishwasher to make room for the sink. We could squeeze one in if we had to, but giving it up seemed like the right choice.

But here's the thing I'm learning about luxuries - luxuries like dishwashers, dryers, internet, television, and cell phones: We forget what luxuries they are, and we become dependent on them. We make them necessities. Then they start to require things from us: money, maintenance, and most of all, our attention. Something that started out making our lives more convenient, over time begins to put demands on us.

It's not easy to give up some of these things. It's downright counter-cultural at times. But, being independent of these things offers more value than luxury or convenience. It offers presence. Giving up distraction and obligation to appliances, you get to be present in the current moment and involved in the stuff of life, and the people you share it with.

I'm still learning this, of course, reminding myself of it when I'm grumpy about washing the dishes. Most of the time I enjoy it though. I've been printing poems and sheet music, and learning and singing while I wash the dishes. I also just listen to the kids playing around me as a I wash, and watch the birds in the dogwood outside my window. It has become a little joyful time each day that I really look forward to.

I know you know know this, too. I'm sure we seek presence in different ways, and allow different indulgences. What do you give up? How do you stay present?

And because words aren't my strong suit, here are some other insightful, and perhaps more poetic, thoughts on washing the dishes by hand:
On doing dishes
Washing dishes together
Pretty over the kitchen sink
Joy of Washing the Dishes by Hand

1 comment:

Martha said...

This family of 6 just sold their house and are now living in a RV...talk about small: http://www.carriedonthewind.com
After taking out our microwave this week, a friend asked me "What's next? Your dishwasher?"