Mundanity and the Business of Thinking

I get really pissed off about life sometimes. The repetition of all those chores and tasks we need to do to keep on living the way we do just blows, doesn’t it? In one way or another we’ve been doing it for thousands and thousands of years, and hurrah for that or none of us would be here, but some days I swear I could smash every dish in the cupboard just so I didn’t have to empty the dishwasher one more time.

And yet.

Today I was indeed emptying the dishwasher, and had a sudden coming to, the way you do from a daydream. I realised I’d been thinking about the way people begin to gravitate back to their homeland once they’re approaching forty, not about how to stack the stupid amount of bowls we own in our ridiculously tiny cupboards.

Key point: I already know how to stack the bowls.

I figure it out anew each time I go shopping for new bowls and have to cram them in somehow, because if I don’t the voice of my husband will win out over the clatter of crockery. So my hands were moving on automatic pilot, freeing up some corner of my brain to head off into reverie, letting it scrabble away at something that has been trying to get air for a while.

It’s not as if this is a new revelation – Steven Spielberg has been quoted as saying his best ideas came to him driving the freeway – but today it felt new to me. I could save up my chores and do them in one swoop, letting my brain have some rest time for an hour so things can ferment. I could turn off the radio when I do it, just to help things along. I could quit bitching about the things that need to be done just so we can eat from clean plates and put on clean underwear, and just factor it in.

Living creatively doesn’t just mean having hours spare to do the ‘art’. It means using all of your hours in the best way you can, even when you’re hanging laundry. Let’s face it, there’s always laundry. You may as well just learn to use laundry time better.

4 thoughts on “Mundanity and the Business of Thinking

  1. Ah yes, chores… If you haven’t read it, I recommend Iris Murdoch’s first novel, ‘Under The Net’. The protagonist’s a writer trying to figure out how to be a good one, and I don’t want to give anything away but towards the end of the story there’s some stuff about mundane chores and how physical work fits well with creative ‘brain’ work. Plus it’s just a good read and features martial arts, a dog that’s a film star, and a Thames skinny-dipping scene.

    1. Thanks for the recommendation. I’ve always had a hard time whenever I’ve tried any Murdoch in the past, but some books you just have to wait long enough for. I used to love the first edition of that book, back when I worked in a 1st Ed bookshop, so perhaps it’s just been waiting patiently for me to come around to it.

      1. It’s the only work of hers I’ve read, so I don’t know if it’s easier going than the others. I didn’t love it right from the first page, but I got into to it after a bit and now I find I think back on it a lot.

  2. Great thoughts and ideas are often thought up whilst doing the most mundane things. They free up our mind. Of course, it still doesn’t make them more palatable unfortunately.

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