Today I tidied for a while, folding and stacking linen cloth of various sizes by color and weight, harmonizing the multi-shelf chaos that had been causing me to wring my hands and generally feel like a bad person.
I'd been meaning to do it for ages, to restrain the lawless, random bits and pieces that had laid seige to my shelves, making me paw and dig to find what I needed on any given day.
Now, sometime "tidying" for me is actually procrastinating, but not today. This was well worth doing, and my brain feels lighter and better for having done it. And the shelves look great too!
My worthwhile task reminded of a poem that lives on the wall of my workshop.
Here's the last stanza:
The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.
Marge Piercy, "To be of use" from Circles on the Water
Working alone, I sometimes lose my place, and my direction. I question what's worth doing, what I'm supposed to be doing, and whether I'm actually getting anything done at all. But today, the completion of a simple, satisfying task reminded me that things do get done, and that sometimes those chores that live on the back burner for ages are the ones that, once completed, reveal a new sense of purpose.
Also, the whole poem is pretty great. You can read it all here: