Washing Dishes

Issue #16 - 2m53s


Welcome to M ND THE GAP, a lifestyle newsletter for those that are young, weird, and curious. Scattered thoughts, but often around technology, culture, and adolescent romances. If you’re with it, you can sign up here.

What invigorates? What leads to fulfillment? What makes life feel good and the heart full?

I used to believe these were easy questions - the process of question, action, observation, and iteration would guarantee a solution over time. Now, I find that the sheer amount of stimuli around us muddles our process and proves the method insufficient. Decoupling the intrinsic - what is truth and reality - from the extrinsic, the banal, and the bastards is a necessary challenge for a good life.

This is for the last days of 2019.

Seeing racks in the bank feels great. Gucci rings on the pinkies even better. By the next day, both become irrelevant.

Having you reply to my story is affirming. It only affirms the material and thus, the trivial. I'd rather we sit down around the fire.

On a 1-10 scale of pleasure and fulfillment - decoupling the two is proving too challenging a task for my current understanding of self - these actions may be short-term 10s but converges to a long-term 6. In the long term, they bring us to a point just above ever-present numbness. A slow death.

For myself, the most helpful framework I've found this year to gauge long-term reward and personal meaning is a simple one - creation versus consumption.

Consumption is the default. Bringing inputs into your personal world is consumptive. Watching television is consumptive. Reading is consumptive. Twitter is consumptive. Silence and lethargy are consumptive.

Creation is the act of leaving a mark on the external world, birthed from a single want in the depths of the soul. Following the beat of your bodily melody, the energy spent is only on which you intrinsically desire. The phone call is creative. Pottery is creative. Striving towards your goals is creative.

Of this dichotomy, I find that only the latter proves to be of worth in the long run. The scarier of the duo, the one that requires a conscious choice is the one whose rewards are truly satisfying. The former exists to support the latter.

Pen to paper, hand to clay, mouth to mic. The energy born reverberates through all parts of life and culminates in a satisfying sleep. A day's worth of exhaustion comes in conjunction with a day's worth of fulfillment.

I find that I'm someone deeply driven by momentum. Inertia is a powerful force, too strong for the strength of will to overcome. Lethargy is the enemy, and the one I fall prey to far too easily. Once mindless consumption takes over, and creation tucks itself into the corner, life loses its luster. It persists, but seemingly not more than in a vegetative state — a short-term sufficiency that leaves no memory of its existence. Its mark is only left through the artifacts of creation.

What does all this have to do with washing dishes?

I've found that I love the simple act of washing dishes. After a long burst of creative energy, spending a half-hour washing the piled-up dishes restores and replenishes the mind. It ends with a satisfying burst of pure elation, a combination of light exercise and a discernible impact upon the immediate, physical world. It maintains the creation momentum by transitioning from the labors of the mind to the labors of the body, resting one while engaging the other, allowing the next act of creation to be generated - furthering the daily statement of will, the affirmation of existence.

Happy 2020 y'all.