For about ten days, Nashville has been in water conservation mode. Residents have been asked to eliminate watering lawns and washing cars. We've been asked to shower every other day, to use disposable plates and utensils and wash only essential laundry. I've found lots of ways to conserve. I use the water from my basement dehumidifiers to water my plants and vegetables. I wash fruit in a bowl of water instead of under running water. I've found I actually like washing my hands by dipping them into a bowl of water - it feels reverent and special instead of mundane. But I have to admit that my favorite part of water conservation has been my compliance with limiting laundry.
Last week, I didn't wash a single load of laundry. This was made possible, in part, by a sweet friend who lives in another county washing one load of clothes for us to help us get through. I normally wash five to seven loads weekly, so by the time this week arrived, I could do laundry every day and still have cut my usage in half over the two week period. So I've been doing one load daily in order to work my way through the piles but not overtax the system with five loads in one day.
Yesterday, I folded one load and put another in the washer. As I did so, I thought about the freedom I felt to not start another load when the washer finished. I normally try to push through and wash every item on laundry day, so that I can go longer between washing. But that doesn't mesh with conservation methods, so I've adjusted my expectations: there will be dirty laundry (lots of it) for a while, but I will tackle it bit by bit instead of all at once.
There are a few lessons in here for me (and perhaps for you?).
Why do I need an outside force to grant me grace with myself? If we weren't in water conservation mode, I would have berated myself as being lazy yesterday for not washing more than one load. The conservation guidelines made me relax and say to myself, "You've done what you can for today. Now rest." I would like to be able to rest a bit each day without being forced to do so.I called these "lessons" above, but I guess I have more questions than answers. Does that mean I'm not learning anything? I hope not. I have a daughter who asks lots of questions. She questions nearly everything. And while that can be exhausting, I hope it will also mean that she doesn't follow just because someone is leading. I hope it will mean she asks until she gets the answer that resonates with her heart. Likewise, I hope questioning myself will lead me to the path I need to be on - instead of blindly walking along in well-worn ruts.
Why do I feel the need to completely finish a job that will never, ever go away? Even if I do five or six or seven loads of laundry in one day, there will always be dirty clothes in my house. There are five of us (and K does enough costume changes that she counts as two people). So while there is some psychological benefit for me to do lots of laundry in one day, it doesn't matter in the long run. Do I feel more accomplished if I can show what I've done with my day? Couldn't I learn something from accepting that many tasks in life - both physical and spiritually - are for the long haul?
Why does it take a crisis for me to re-evaluate the way I live my life? I don't want to be so bogged down in my life that I never take enough of a breather to see whether I am doing what I want to do in a way I want to do it. Am I just following a path that others have laid or am I going where my heart tells me to go? Sure it's just laundry, but do I forget to ask myself whether what has worked in the past is still what works for me now?