Over and Over

When I stopped working 6 days a week I thought "finally I will have time to do all of the things I have been putting off for the last year!". I would go to the optometrist and file my taxes before April. I would make my bed every morning, and promptly answer my e-mails.  And, when I got all that done - with a clear mine and a clear schedule - I would sit down to write.

But, in my first month with free-time, I wrote more on my to-do list than I did with my typewriter because the daily work is never done. When I returned home after a busy day, I folded my clean laundry, closed my computer, and crawled into my freshly made bed. "So this is what it feels like to be a person who has it together!" 

The next morning, my once empty basket held my dirty pajama shirt, my inbox was full with replies, and my bed was ruffled from sleeping in it.  All the things I did had become undone, and I restarted the cycle. 

I began to feel like Sisyphus -   sentenced to roll a boulder up hill, only to have it roll back down, and have the task start anew, each day. Everything meant nothing (I guess I'm proof that housework can bring on an existential crisis.)

On Friday, I had a mini-meltdown over this. I actually cried about how futile washing the dishes felt, knowing they were just going to be used for dinner that night. In an effort to restore my sanity before my boyfriend got home, I took a walk. (Portland, miraculously, saw the sun for three days while the rest of the country experienced a blizzard.) In an abandoned dirt heap on a back alley I spotted the beginnings of a daffodil pushing through the surface. I walked back home and grabbed my trowel, dug deep to get the flower's bulb, and replanted it in the small terracotta pots I keep on my counter.

When I woke up the next morning, and peered into my kitchen, dirty from cooking the night before, I looked at that flower pot. And I felt accomplished.

It occurred to me there is a difference between doing and creating. When you create something, it's valuable not because it's done, but because you did it. So, after a flower blooms and is eventually cut back for another season - I wont feel like it was pointless, because the end wasn't the point at all. The action itself was joyful.

Creating doesn't have to mean painting or sculpting - it simply means making something that wasn't there when you woke up this morning.  It means doing something spontaneous, and unassigned. Maybe someday I will reach transcendence and can feel this way about sweeping the floor. But, until then I will challenge myself to be creative - something that can't be added to a to-do list.  


  1. what a beautiful post! I love the joy and pride that comes out of creating something. your point about the difference between doing and creating was right on the mark.

  2. Beautiful post!
    You're so right, creating is much better than doing for the sake of doing!

  3. Remember when we used to have talks about compartmentalzing things in your life? You also need to compartmentalize your stresses. Getting to time on work is worth being stressed about....your bed being made does NOT matter. Try and think about whether things that are stressing you out are worth the stress. If your sink is full of dishes, the world will go on and nothing bad will happen. LOVE YOU!

  4. I live in a constant battle with "creating" and "doing." while not a lot gets "done" at my house (my kitchen is constantly covered in powdered sugar, my floors have miniscule pieces of cupcakes and cookies covered in dirt and my counters always have never ending piles of clutter), I work part-time 3 days a week, while still trying to "create" the other 4. while I still have a breakdown every now and then, I've realized that a dirty kitchen is a sign of a kitchen worked in, and a "messy" house is a house lived in. My husband doesn't mind my mess like others would, and I say, if you can't "create" than what can you do?! Thank you so much for this post, you put a smile on my face :)

    1. Amber, I'm glad this post found you at the right time. Thanks for sharing your insights - I will have to remember, next time I create a mess of my floor with paint or flower clippings, it's a sign of doing something I love.

  5. I love this post - and the image. I'm going to use it in my blog and link to you, if that's OK! Here's the post: http://wp.me/p1s1kN-jI


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