Last week, as I was preparing my guest room for company I decided to take a few minutes and straighten up my fabric piles and projects. What I thought would help me feel better quickly backfired as I sorted through a half dozen unfinished projects and supplies for unstarted ones.
Suddenly I felt completely disgusted with myself and with my life. What a waste of resources!
One of the piles that made me particularly irritated with myself was the pile of mending. I went through it, noting a missing button here and a torn seam there. How is it that I cannot even find time to mend our clothing?!? Why is it that I didn’t take two minutes to reattach a button when it first came off a year ago? For that matter, why do I have a mending pile at all? Why don’t I just fix things as they tear and move on instead of putting them dutifully in the basket?
I looked around, looked at the clock, looked at the pile. I had housework to do, food to prep. All of the things that I have to do over and over again each day. I spend a great deal of my life telling myself that as soon as everything is clean I will tackle the other projects, projects like mending or prepping a craft project for my children and some of their friends. I looked around and realized that the “other projects” weren’t moving any closer to the top of the list because the daily list of repeats is so long.
So I went through my buttons, matched threads, picked up my needle and went to work. I mended dresses, skirts, shirts, ties, doll clothes.
I didn’t get the house clean, but I did the mending. As I sat quietly and went through the methodical steps of fixing things I noticed what a calming activity it is. In spite of the clutter in other rooms, my heart felt at peace and I felt a certain amount of gratitude for these items which had been so long out of circulation but were now ready to wear once more. I longed for a life of simplicity, where sitting quietly to mend something is a normal part of life instead of a deviation from it.
I smiled as my two year old squealed with delight at the pink skirt she’s never seen before, smiled as my four year old son proudly put on his “new” tie for church on Sunday (which his older brother promptly ruined again). It was interesting to watch these items of clothing as they were noticed and quickly put to use in daily wardrobes.
Then, as I went to work on the rest of the house, I thought about how hard I work to maintain the routine so that we can function. I realized that taking a break to do the mending was actually helpful, as it reminded me that the routine exists to help me, not the other way around. I am in charge of my time, not the clock. The daily mess will come as surely as the sun rises, but that doesn’t make me a servant to it.
I’ve been pondering these things ever since. What can I get rid of? What can we let go of to make room for a simpler life? How can I live so that there is time for simple tasks? Yes, I’ve asked them a hundred times before, but I’m asking them again because I believe the answer is still worth finding. More difficult to find, perhaps, when they’re buried somewhere beneath the busy lives of 10 people under one roof, but worth finding nonetheless.
How do you do it?