On Method and Madness

By Alison June 12, 2016 3 Min Read

You know that the enemy of good housekeeping is willy-nilly whimsy don’t you?
That she who grabs a pile of washing as she stumbles down the stairs carrying last night’s glass of water first thing in the morning, then dumps it in the hall when she is distracted by the morning post is destined never really to feel at one with her house? That those of us who never complete one job before being delighted or terrified by the next will always suffer from domestic irritation: never quite feeling that we are entitled to the joy that is ticking off one box and sitting down with a well-deserved cup of tea
Well today I want to advocate something radical instead. I know. You are going to think I’ve been on the crazy juice again: but how about this, how about we all gather together and as one and make a vow, that from today we will finish what we start…
Does this way madness lie? I think not, my little Buttercup.
I suspect you see, that if we are already blessed with with well documented routine, and eagerly anticipated ritual, then it is merely a spoonful of thought and a liberal sprinkling of self-discipline that are standing between us and the path to domestic bliss.
Think, if you will back to your school days, to cookery lessons and chemistry lessons. To well thought out, well executed recipes and experiments. To ingredients and methods. Think about the day you turned water into steam: at no point did the man in the white coat at the front of the class suggest you might like to nip into the gym while you were waiting, to have a quick scramble across the monkey bars now did he? The lady in the apron in your cookery class never, not even on her craziest days, suggested that you might like to dabble in a bit of stain removal before you got round to tipping the syrup over the pineapple upside down cake you were in the midst of baking. No Siree. They didn’t, because they believed that any given procedure follows the same path: the gathering of ingredients and resources, the following of a METHOD, and the observation of the outcome or satisfaction of the result.
And that’s it. One task. No dilly-dallying. No wandering into the garden or getting distracted by The Housewives of Beverley Hills. One task, in which we were encouraged to take pride in accomplishing.
Now I am not for one minute, suggesting that for every given task in our domestic lives we should have well documented procedures: I’m not that bonkers… but what I am saying is this- satisfaction can be bought with self-discipline. With a focused mind-set. With the determination to finish what we start before we grant ourselves permission to move on to the next task. And in this way we buy ourselves not just satisfaction but creative freedom to play…
We couldn’t for example, hand-wash our latest vintage textile find in the kitchen sink, if last nights crusty, stinky fish dish was still soaking in the bowl. The pretty is immediately hampered by the need to do what should already have been done. The dull stuff gets in the way of that which is lovely, because last night we found ourselves distracted by the lamp in the garden that didn’t seem to be working, an over-long conversation with our sister, or the self-gratifying belief that we DESERVED to sit down. Things get left, creative freedom is lost and harmony is compromised by the need to get busy with a scrubbing brush. Oh woe is us.
It won’t do. And all it takes is commitment to FINISHING WHAT WE START by always having the correct resources in stock (dish-soap, scrubbies, bicarb and rubber gloves for the nightmare that is a fishy bowl!), and following the prescribed method (scrubbing until the stink is gone, then drying and putting away immediately) so that we can afford to reward ourselves in celebration of the outcome (Gin and Lemo please), and move on to more pleasurable pursuits.
Because that M’dear is what all of this is about: the pleasurable pursuits. And they can be ours if we are only willing to FINISH WHAT WE START. If we are absolutely willing to exist only in the moment: not in what else needs doing, or what we would prefer to be enjoying, but in the moment, for as Cedric Wright once said…
The days of our lives must become precious.
In all heaven and earth, there is this one thing to do:
take your time. Enjoy the perfection of what you are doing.
Enjoy accomplishing it exquisitely…
Enjoy accomplishing it exquisitely. Let’s make it our mantra, Housekeepers…

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