Grateful for the Dishwasher Delay (Well, Almost Grateful)

I won’t go into the details, but we still don’t have a working dishwasher.

Tonight, we decided to make a real meal rather than just eggs. Since the demise of the dishwasher, we’ve been eating a lot of eggs in an attempt to make fewer dirty dishes. Tonight, I made two pots of pasta (wheat and gluten-free), sauce, sauteed greens, and gluten-free bread. It took me about an hour to do all of the dinner dishes. It felt like forever. But it gave me lots of opportunities to be mindful. I would start to get grumpy, then I would take a deep breath and make note of my emotions and what needs were not being met by the circumstances. Then I would feel grateful and serene for a few moments before I would feel grumpy again and the cycle would run through once more.

It was interesting to find that the thought that kept coming to me was that it was unfair that I should be doing the dishes. We should have already had a working dishwasher. I should have made something simpler for dinner. What’s the emotion that goes with that thought? Feeling put-out, maybe? Sulky? Is “sulky” an emotion?

At any rate, I was pleased to find that when I turned this thought around and examined it, asked myself in what way my doing dishes by hand was unfair, the thought disappeared (albeit momentarily).

I started to think ill of my efforts. I must not be doing very well with this mindfulness thing if I was still having so many negative feelings. But, after another deep breath, I reminded myself that the point isn’t to not feel any negative feelings; it’s to be mindful of my feelings and not let them run my actions unchecked. I remembered Gretchen Rubin writing about her resolution to imitate a spiritual master. Rubin writes how St. Thérèse of Lisieux, the spiritual master Rubin had chosen, “tells the story of how she once broke into a sweat at the effort to conquer her annoyance when a fellow nun made maddening clicking noises during evening prayers.” And she was a saint.

I can almost feel grateful that we don’t yet have our new dishwasher because it’s given me a chance to practice mindfulness and to have these little insights about myself. At the very least, I’ve stopped obsessing about how great it will be once we have the new dishwasher. It will be a time-saver, but it won’t be life-altering. We couldn’t afford the model with that feature on it.

3 comments

  1. viewpacific · August 11, 2010

    I enjoy your post and your list of personal commandments.
    I recently went to a mindfulness retreat, and guess what? We get to do all the dishes by hand, one at a time, after standing in line to get to the wash basins.
    Also, for our service to the community, several of us got a very special chance to watch our minds play the “should” and “fair/unfair” game – we got to clean the bathrooms.
    Believe it or not, it was all good practice.
    Keep up the good practice yourself.

    Like

  2. Darliegh · August 10, 2010

    LOL – how much did the ‘life-altering’ model cost? I’m quite enjoying your blog, btw.

    Like

  3. Tucker · August 10, 2010

    I think life is really just a series of opportunities to improve ourselves…or not. You’re doing a fantastic job of the former as far as I can tell.

    Like

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