The point of pointlessness

a kitchen

Thanks to that goddamn Yehuda Berg, I think I’ve figured out Reason #5 why I enjoy washing dishes.1

The first reason, of course, or maybe not “of course,” but “of course” to me at this point, having long ruminated on the topic, is the immediate satisfaction of accomplishment. Like a lot of people playing a long and fuzzy game, milestones are more like 100-milestones, and closure, period, is even rarer. Whereas with dishes, unless you’re toiling at Satan’s Eternal Sink at the Seventh Circle Café, eventually you’re done, and the outside of “eventually” is usually less than an hour. (Thanksgiving/etc. take longer, but then, there are usually helpers, unless your friends and family are total shits.)

The second reason is brain-off time. (Walking is brain-off time, too, but you have to put on shoes and leave the house, which is not always convenient.) My brain often hurts from being pushed beyond capacity and reason. (I know, I know.) Dishes are guilt-free brain vacation, because I am still

The third reason is really a corollary of the second reason: you can do it while watching TV! Because, as Ole Golly cautioned her young charge, Harriet, TV should be “enjoyed” only in conjunction with another, equally dull thing, because together they make up one sort of entertaining thing. (Exceptions, notable for their true scarcity, as well as extreme non-boringness, include The Wire, Mad Men, and a handful of other offerings where looking away means really missing something.) Seriously. If you take nothing else away from this long-ass post, TV is far more enjoyable and watching it will leave you feeling far less woozy and hungover when consumed with a healthy portion of manual labor.

The fourth reason is clean dishes. Duh!

Which brings us to the fifth reason, a decidedly woowoo one, so beware, prompted by reading today’s pithy missive from that goddamn Yehuda Berg: washing dishes makes other, more “important” stuff happen elsewhere.

Now. TGYB’s own point about pointlessness is that concerted effort in one area or on one project does not always bear immediate and direct fruit: you pour yourself into a relationship that just will not work, only to find yourself in a subsequent one that does; you bust hump on a project that flops, only to have another magically fall in your lap.

There are almost endless, nuanced variations on this.

Sometimes trying a thing teaches you you’re not very good at that thing, but allows you to inadvertently discover that you kick ass at something else. I’m thinking Jan Brady in that episode where she ends up discovering a knack for art, or my dad, who by his own admission was one of the world’s worst copywriters, but who, in the course of trying to sell his crappy ads, discovered he was an amazing salesman.

Other times, the wheel moves around to someone else before cashing-in time: you work and work and work to make the world’s greatest adhesive to no avail, but someone else discovers it kicks ass at sorta-kinda helping tiny yellow squares of paper temporarily stick to everything. Or you’re Nicola Tesla, and you’re just ahead of your time and kind of a sucky business person. Or you’re a woman or other disenfranchised and oppressed soul, and your shit is just outright stolen, because it can be. (And speaking of advertising, hoo boy, notorious for that kind of thievery.)

Finally, or at least, finally for our purposes, there is the seriously woowoo notion that applying effort in one area has a hoodoo-voodoo effect in another. This is where skeptics start howling at stuff like feng shui and the Law of Attraction and their ilk. Which I get, believe me, especially because the mainstream is not the exclusive province of charlatans, hucksters, and idiots. Personally, I have huge problems with the Law of Attraction because the way it seems to get put out there is as a kind of cosmic shopping device: I want these things, ergo I will wish them into being. Which is messed up for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is entitlement. Bah. Don’t get me started.

But when you look at it another way, the hoodoo-voodoo thing does make some sense in certain applications because it’s establishing new and consistent behaviors, as well as facilitating change and creating new surroundings. For example, my kitchen falls in the Prosperity bagua, according to feng shui. Me cleaning the hell out of it, something I’ve been doing slowly and assiduously over the past six months, is not going to make me rich.2

However, me attending to something I’ve largely neglected for the past five years brings with it a whole host of salubrious effects that might conceivably affect my ability to make money, from feeling good about caring for myself to understanding that I can push a c*cksucking boulder up a motherf*cking hill, if I do it incrementally. Will two checks for $10,000 each show up in my mailbox ten days from now, the way they did the last time I finished de-gunking the tracks in my jalousie windows with cotton swabs? Doubtful. Will I come out of this exercise feeling freer and better able to make a move? Yes, because I’ve unloaded a bunch of crap, and have a concrete understanding of how much of the remaining crap I really need to get by. That facilitates a physical move, which is something I’ve been considering, whether to a place where I might lower expenses (and save money) or find new opportunities (to make money).

Besides, greasy kitchen is a bummer. Just is. And I am all about bummer-removal right now.

That goddamn Yehuda Berg made his point in just a handful of well-selected words, which is why he’s that goddamn Yehuda Berg and I’m just the communicatrix. We are on the same page, though, the Yehuda and I. Energy is never lost, for good or for ill. (You’d better believe that when you put energy in the wrong place, it will come back and bite you in the ass down the road.)

So I try to stay alert, and to choose wisely. Mostly, though, I try not to worry as much about the point. The point will sort itself out later. Or is likely only visible from some further-out point.

Commit fully. Move forward. Take breaks. Trust.

xxx
c

1It’s a term of endearment for the wily wizard who sneaks up on me EVERY TIME and zaps me with truths. Cf: #45 & 46; and this.
2Unless it is, in which case, whee! Drinks are on me!
3Although hey, if that happens, woohoo, and see #2, above.

Image by dno1967 via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

If you like story-type stuff, you should check out my friend Christine’s great new podcast, Storyworthy. I’m on this week’s episode, “Hospitals,” telling the story of the doctor who lovingly offered to build me a new rectum.

4 comments

  1. It’s not that I’ve ever hated washing up exactly — there were times before reading your own posts about it that I found it pleasant, productive, legitimate brain-switching-off time off my own bat — but you really up the ante in how philosophically I approach it these days. So thanks! (I also take your washing up philosophy to the ironing these days too.)

    1. You’re welcome, as always, Fionnuala. And I used to be the same way about ironing, until I realized I had my hands full with washing, and could get along fine with jersey knits.

      Bye-bye, iron!

  2. Your reason #1 is perfect. It’s the reason I would rather be a server in a restaurant or bartender than almost anything else, if it would pay the bills. Now I open and close ten to twenty projects a year (and as soon as they close, they’re on a schedule for inevitable review and revision). If I were back at Dos Amigos, it would be 120 per night.

    “Hi, nice to see you. Here’s your table. Thanks for your order. Here’s your food. Here’s the ketchup. I’ll bring you your change. Glad you enjoyed everything. Have a safe trip home. Bye.”

    Complete, happy projects. I SO know what you mean.

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