By the time we have crossed the 60 timeline, doing housework is probably the last thing on our mind. Let alone housework on a sunny summer day. You will think, “There are better things to do with my time.” That may be so, but let’s not underestimate the lowly housework in its capacity of giving satisfaction and joy.
In 1957, in his classic The Poetics of Space, French philosopher Gaston Bachelard wrote:
“Through housewifely care a house recovers not so much its originality as its origin. And what a great life it would be if, every morning, every object in the house could be made anew by our hands, could “issue” from our hands.”
Doing Housework: From Garden to Kitchen
The pot of chili, filled with herbs, peppers, and tomatoes I collected on my morning stroll through my garden, was softly bubbling on the stove. The “pop” of the lid’s seal of freshly canned plum-butter, made with the overabundance of plums gathered from the tree on the south side of the house, let me know that I would have gifts for the winter holidays.
The afternoon light passing through the window highlighted the purple-red cabbage in a glass jar fermenting into sauerkraut. The first quart of raisins from the new crop of grapes sat on the counter, waiting to fill little grandchildren’s hands or sweeten my morning cereal on my next backpacking trip.
There is nothing like the taste of food from your own garden to fill your heart with pride and a sense of connection to nature.
Housework as a Creative Act
The housework of this day had its origin in months of planting and growing, cared for by me, the weather, and mother nature. The satisfaction I experience when wiping the little jars, smelling the spicy smells, cutting and stirring and getting it just right, is a deeply creative act.
Housework as a creative act. I want to have clean shelves to display the products. I want to wipe down the counters and appliances until they shine to offset the new garlic braid hanging by the stove. Do you see housework as a creative act?
One act of creativity leads to another. By keeping house, by renewing the space we call home, daily, we enhance our awareness and nurture ourselves. Writing is my official creative endeavor. My unofficial creative endeavor is keeping house and garden.
When my home and garden fill me with good feeling, I dig deeper and turn to my writing. When I empty myself in my writing, I turn to my home and find housework to regenerate myself. The ritual of housework renews me.
I don’t have a cleanliness fetish; I don’t have a designer home. I live in a house I make my home every day. Like bathing, it is a daily ritual. The home I create and the abundance I receive from it, I share with others when the mood strikes. Housekeeping is part of a living cycle, a way to stay in touch with the origin of things.
Do you enjoy doing housework? Does cleaning and housework give you joy or bore you to tears? Please join the conversation!