Up@dawn 2.0

Monday, November 30, 2015

I Believe In Mundane Tasks

Installment 1

When people hear the word “mundane” they usually associate it with the word “boring”. I suppose that’s true. I do too. But I also associate “mundane” with “responsibility” and “consistency”. I associate it with “home” and “independence”. This is why I believe in doing mundane things.

Mundane tasks are worth far more than the boring reputation they receive. I learned basic responsibility from an early age by doing something as mundane and simple as cleaning the kitchen every night. I wasn’t tall enough to reach the sink yet, so my dad bought a step stool dubbed the “Sami Stool” specifically for me to wash the dishes. We didn’t have a dishwasher at the time, so this was no easy task. I followed a checklist posted on the fridge to make sure I didn’t forget any steps. Every night after dinner, I would put away the leftovers then wash and dry the dishes.  I had to be sure to wash out the sink and run the garbage disposal. Then I would move on to wiping down the counter and stove and dining table. Finally I would sweep the floors. This daily routine gave me a sense of responsibility as a 6-year-old and taught me how to complete a task, no matter how boring, correctly the first time. Eventually my dad taught me how to cook and do laundry. Soon enough my sister and I were in charge of all the house work as well. While I hated it at the time, I know now just how grateful I should be for being taught how to do all of these mundane tasks and doing them often. I know that when I’m ready to totally live on my own, I will easily be able to take care of myself because I’ve been doing it for years.

When I moved away from home and into college, I found that the mundane tasks I had once begrudged doing, I craved. I missed doing the dishes and the laundry in my kitchen and with my machines. I missed vacuuming and dusting. I missed grocery shopping. I went home one weekend and I told my dad not to do the dishes because I wanted to do them. I told him wait for me to come home before going to the store because I wanted to make a list and push the shopping cart like I had done for so many years. It was the strangest feeling, missing these simple household chores. But it felt familiar. It reminded me of the normalcy in my life before I got to college and my world turned upside down.

Do I love doing chores all the time? No, of course not. But I do value the ability of such mundane tasks to prepare me to be on my own and to bring me home again. 


  1. Well said.
    Joy is in the small stuff.
    As an adult (30yrs) I have found it helpful even to change the way I view doing certain tasks. When I am cleaning, I remind myself that I am paying homage to the things in my life that I love and want to keep by cleaning them and removing distractions. When I am driving I imagine how someone from the past may think of this tasks akin to time-travel or teleportation.
    I challenge myself to do simple things more slowly and more deliberately. Sometimes even walking as slow as possible can be profoundly freeing. Watching the entire world passing by, each person hurrying, I slow down. Sometimes others notice the slowness and they also slow down and enjoy the steps, others may feel like they are moving even faster around me.
    Putting love into these small tasks is putting love into the small corners of the world.

  2. This is all very zen: "chop wood, carry water" etc.