Retirement Talk

WHAT to do with the rest of your life?


Episode 398(135) Doing the Dishes

10:30 pm.  Time to grab the floss and toothbrush and spend a few minutes roaming the house looking out the windows while I take care of this daily ritual. It might seem like a task, but I've come to look at it as one of life's pleasant gifts. I didn't always look at it that way. There was a time when brushing my teeth was a task. Forty odd years ago this all changed. A friend we were visiting, upon reaching this time of day, remarked casually how much he enjoyed this little pleasure. I never forgot it. Imagine, over forty years and at each days end I am reminded through this wonderful little blissful moment when life seems to stop and create this cleansing taste and contemplation of the pleasure of the moment. It's all a matter of awareness and attitude.

This is Retirement Talk. I'm Del Lowery.

Daily routines present themselves to us - like it or not; rich or poor. What's to be said concerning these daily tasks? Are they to be avoided; to let slide, to dread? Or are they jobs that can be done and even enjoyed? It might seem like a silly thing to contemplate but we spend a lot of time doing these things. That's what we old philosophy teachers do. We think about stuff. Maybe we think too much. Or maybe we think about the wrong stuff but then again...

Aristotle claimed that we don't have good habits because we are good people, but that we are good people because we have created good habits. There is a big difference. We need to  carefully consider what it is we are doing with our life, and then choosing the right ones we need to make them habitual. We need to acquire them so that they flow from us as the day follows the night.

Doing dishes reminded me of all of this. I am the dish washer in our house. We have a dishwashing machine that sits unused most of the time. Sometimes my wife convince me to put some dishes in there and run it just so the seals don't dry out and cost a fortune in repairs. But as a routine, when the meal is finished, I do dishes at the sink.

I love doing dishes; I really do. I select some talk radio program or podcast that appeals to me and turn on the hot water. I take care to prep the dishes and counter so that my dish water can stay relatively clean throughout the job. My hands love it. This warm water treatment that last twenty to thirty minutes is so very soothing and comforting. My mind loves this as I am lost in listening to some great stories or tales that paint pictures of far away places or interesting people. The voice from the radio has this power to capture the imagination that has always been magical.

Most of we retired people probably grew up with radio rather than television. We remember days of sitting, standing or laying on the floor in the living room with the entire family listening to the Lone Ranger and Tonto, Amos and Andy, or the boxing Heavy Weigh Championships of the World coming to us from Madison Square Garden in New York City. Those were the days.

Those days still exist for me on a daily basis when it is time to do dishes. The computer allows us to listen to almost anything whenever we want via podcasts. Most of the time I tune into the CBC from Vancouver and listen to "As It Happens". This program takes time to develop a story. It doesn't include any advertising or underwriting minutes. The hosts are skilled and personable. Other days I might listen to an interview by on the Lenord Lopatte Show out of New York City; or an interview by Dian Rhyem. All the time my hands are basking in warmth and I am creating a beautifully clean kitchen with everything put in it's place and waiting.

There are other daily tasks like this that must be confronted. I'm sure we all have our little methods of making them into something that is not only tolerable but enjoyable. Let me try to think of one that is not enjoyable. Hummmm. I'm having trouble.

Mowing the yard gives me exercise and a beautiful lawn when I am finished. It is also a time when I can get lost in music via a good set of headphones. Washing the car: I have always loved washing the car. Even when we lived in Alaska I washed the car every week in our garage. Once again the radio or music came into play. Plus, I loved the idea of this mindless task that one could do each week. The car would sparkle and then in one week's time would be filthy again. I felt like Sysiphus with his rock. I loved it even though I knew it would only need to be done again and again without end.

I'm trying to think - even the laundry. Talk radio or podcasts again come to the rescue. Laundry day is radio morning in our house. Three hours of the best entertainment of week keep me absorbed in the world outside the house while the clothes are  being washed, fold and put away. Even the vacuuming disappears during this time.

All of these little things are part of life. I suppose if one were to add up the hours or time spent doing them one would be surprised. I'm sure it's huge. I do know one thing though: they don't get in the way of anything. It's time enjoyed, and time enjoyed is never time wasted.

This is Retirement Talk with something to think about.


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