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The joy of chores

  • Published at 06:46 pm June 9th, 2018
Joy can be found even in doing the dishes Photo: BIGSTOCK

Cooking and cleaning can increase mindfulness

We live in Momarizpur, a village 240km northwest of Chittagong. My mother and I had a nice system of helping one another. She would cook and I would clean, until three weeks ago when a young woman showed up to help around the house. 

I didn’t want the extra person in the house. I like my privacy, and I like to do my own work. If something isn’t clean enough, I clean it instead of instructing another person again and again. 

Nonetheless, the kids and I really enjoyed this young woman’s presence in the house, so when my mother said she was going to stay indefinitely, I only slightly hesitated. Then, as the month of Ramadan progressed, I found myself becoming a little bit lazy. 

When I wanted to feed the kids something, I asked the young woman to cook instead of doing it myself.

When I wanted to take my son to the toilet, I asked the young woman. When I wanted to catch my chicken, Sri Devi, I asked the young woman to chase it. 

I noticed that my habit of “just doing it” was turning into “just ordering it.” I was in a strange trance. I lost my executive function. What we ate, the cleanliness of our utensils, the state of the house, was now all up to this young woman. 

Until last night, when I had the good fortune to remind myself that work was not dreadful but it was also enjoyable to giggle with my son after I wash and clean him, cook for my children with the best energies of my heart, connect with my chicken as evening falls, and increase my mindfulness with each moment.

I wish there was a way for this young woman to work part-time and go to vocational school. She is only 20 and incredibly vibrant. What amazing human capital for Bangladesh. We have to imagine better futures for landless men and women.

While we don’t have a formal caste system in Bangladesh, we have a class system based on real estate, economic status of ancestors, and pedigree of education (a tiny fraction of the population).

This Ramadan, let us embrace the chores, share it with our house help, and imagine promising futures for each other. Think about this, if you can help just one person have a better future, that might just be the medicine that frees your soul. While Marianne Williamson’s poem is titled “Let Your Light Shine,” the title can also appropriately be “Let Our Light Shine.”

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world.

There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.

It is not just in some of us, it is for everyone.

And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. 

-- Let Your Light Shine, Marianne Williamson 

Shireen Pasha is a contributor.

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