After ecstasy

That's Drew behind our clothesline in Huber Heights, Ohio, 1986

That’s Drew behind our clothesline in Huber Heights, Ohio, 1986

“After ecstasy, the laundry.” — Zen saying

Perhaps no quote can so succinctly capture the experience of parenthood, especially in its early stages.  The unsurpassed joy of holding a newborn baby is quickly tempered by the grinding realities of sleep deprivation, miscellaneous messes to clean up and a never-ending pile of laundry to be done.  Yet there is joy even in these daily chores, though it may not appear as such without the benefit of years of hindsight.

Most of life is routine, and for the majority of people, there is no small amount of drudgery involved.  But without the stability of sameness, we would have no canvas against which to appreciate the moments of brilliant color and exhilaration that tend to stand out in the foreground of our memories.  Decades later, when we look back on what made us happiest, chances are we will remember primarily the subtle beauty of our everyday lives. As you go through your day today, tomorrow, this week, I hope you will listen for the unique rhythms of your particular world, and hear the poetry of the commonplace.

19 Comments

  1. as always, beautiful! z

    • Thanks so much!

  2. Sheila

    Good Saturday morning,Julia. Your photo says so much for those 80’s days. They really were simpler times and we didn’t even know it. Each of our daughters has three teenagers and I tell them often,”Enjoy!” For Bill and me, six grandchildren has a rhythm all it’s own.
    I just “suggested” that Salty would love a walk. Bill translated my words as he decided it was the thing to do! I’m practicing “tough love” if you know what I mean. My prayers,again, included Jeff and you. Sheila

    • Thanks, Sheila! I’m a big advocate of “tough love” 🙂 even when I direct it at myself — or maybe especially then! I have been praying for you and Bill and our “who knows what” weekend! Thanks so much for being here. Also – 6 grandchildren! what a blessing!

  3. Carlyle

    Julia Baby,

    Both Your mother and I continue to revel in the beauty of expression in your Blogs. Today was exceptional

    • Thanks Daddy, I am so happy to have you and Mama reading my blog. I know she can really identify with the laundry thing even more than I could – I well recall hearing stories about the wringer washer she used to wash our cloth diapers! Thanks so much for being here.

  4. MaryAnn

    Julia, What a wonderful shot! Thank you for breathing joy into my life! I remember hanging up the laundry as a young mom. I think I “miss” it…
    prayers continue…
    I love you, MaryAnn

    • Thanks so much for being here, Mary Ann. I used to love hanging laundry outside; to me the clothes smelled so much fresher that way. Thanks also for the prayers, they are helping us immensely.

  5. Parenthood is a big responsibility and we often get bored by the repetitive nature of the work to done each day. But someday we may long for those active days, the laughter. Thanks for reminding me to listen to the poetry of the commonplace. 🙂

    • Thanks Bindu, some of your blog posts, such as the one about your father, were similar in nature. I read once where Jan Karon (an author I really like) said that she wrote “to celebrate the extraordinary beauty of ordinary lives.” She did a good job of celebrating that through her books, and I try to take note of the extraordinary ordinary people in my life as well. Some of them are wonderful bloggers! 🙂 Thanks for being here.

  6. I love that photo, it’s like the original instagram! Something about laundry on a line is so nostalgic. In the county we used to live in, there was a regulation that you WERE’NT allowed to have a laundry line which was ridiculous because we lived in the country. Drew’s done a fantastic job on the lawn 😉 What a cute pic Julia.

    • Yes, he did a great job on the lawn and then made all those tire tracks on it with his truck! 🙂 Re: laundry not being allowed – I remember when I first went to college our very strict “dorm mother” told us NOT to hang our laundry over the railing outside our suites that surrounded the courtyard in the center – she said “we are not going to have this place looking like a cheap boarding house!” Hilarious. In actuality it was a very expensive boardinghouse although the building itself was designed and built to replicate a cheap one!

      • Well wasn’t she a bossing pants, HA. I guess it would look a sight if all you girls hung all their girly stuff round….giggle.

        • She was a stereotypical school-marm type who wanted to keep “her” girls on the straight and narrow! She meant well, though, and you could always tell her heart was in the right place. Not that it kept us from rolling our eyes sometimes.

  7. merry

    A beautiful picture! Ahhh, the laundry…done my share of laundry, with four little ones to keep clean. It seem every day was laundry day! Thankfully, now they do their own~/!

    • Yes, as I recall, laundry was pretty much an everyday thing, especially during those infant-preschool years. Having less laundry to do is a nice perk of growing older!

  8. A well-written reflection on a piece of ancient wisdom.

    Funny, I was just today thinking of modernizing a different Zen saying I learned in college. The saying is a question answering to a question –

    Q: “Where do we go after death?”
    A: :”Where does the lap go when we stand up?”

    Yet, in our modern world, I propose we adapt the answer (and perhaps the theology).

    Q: “Where do we go after death?”
    A: “Where does the laptop go when we stand up?”

    • I think the theological implications are definitely different in the updated version! As in, “It depends on what you do with it before you stand up.” 🙂

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