Chop Wood Carry Water

Having a high quality of life does not exclude, but rather includes, doing the laundry and the dishes.(a 2 minute read)

I love the month of January because it tends to feel, long, expansive, reflective and post-holiday in a sweet, quiet way.  February tends to be harder; cold, dark, and short,  making everyday tasks feel daunting. This year, February has a different quality, it’s feeling full and busy with a slightly anxious undercurrent. but I find that, as usual,  I am struggling with mundane daily tasks. I’m missing the  ‘rewards’ that come with the Holiday Season and the warmer weather.
As most of us are fortunate enough to know, when we pay attention to our internal stirrings while opening ourselves up to listening, the Universe provides answers/ suggestions/ insights.

I’ve had such an experience lately that has helped me gain some perspective around the ‘February Slog’ and I’ll share it with you in case you are in the same boat… it has to do with the idea of ‘Quality of Life’.
We all have different opinions on what makes life enjoyable, we all agree that meeting our basic needs plus engaging in ‘high reward activities’ is a great start to living a ‘good’ life – but we often differ in our life choice  Some of us value solitude, some community some physical aptitude, some intellectual aptitude. Some of us need a deep emotional connection some of us need emotional distance.. some of us value a vibrant, bustling environment, some of us want to be surrounded by nature. Some value a life partner, some value solitary independence…. and on it goes….
Many of us value a little taste of all of these things, and when we encounter someone who is lacking in one or many of these areas we may feel they have a poor quality of life – it’s not to say they do, but it’s not what we would choose for ourselves.

I have come right up against this lately; sharing time and helping someone who’s life lacks many of the things I value most;  I enjoy Doing a bit more than Being, whereas this person’s life is is all Being and almost no Doing. It’s painful to witness, what I fear is suffering; but in fact, there are sure to be riches present in this person day to day life that I don’t see and that I may not even value in the same way they do.
These reflections have widened my lens and offered insights on my own approach to life.

This encounter has my perspective shifting around the mundane… The tasks of the laundry,  the grocery store, cleaning the toilet, mopping the floors….the daily grind that gets amplified in February and turns into the ‘February Slog’ are all part of living life, and certainly live in the field of ‘Doing’; there may be a day, down the road,  when I am incapable of accomplishing these things, and as much as I dislike doing them now,   I am acutely aware that if/ when  I am unable to engage in these mundane ways, I will certainly feel stripped of my Quality of Life.

The idea that a ‘High Quality of Life’ is found only through the abundance of ‘High Reward Activities’ is misguided; rather its found through realizing the value that sits quietly underneath the beautiful acts of Doing… from there everything becomes ‘High Reward’. So, now, as I am literally about to begin my Sunday ‘Laundry Train” I know that even if I don’t want to do it, I am very fortunate to be able to do it and that is where Life lives for me.
Shanti, Bene Vivendo (Live Well)

* “Chop Wood Carry Water’ in this title is inspired by Joshua Medcalf’s Book