Earlier today I read the a post on mnmlist.com – wash your bowl. It talks of a zen story that demonstrates the example of being present in all you do, enjoying it, and finishing, before you move on to something else.
It made me thinking of washing up, just washing the dishes after a meal. I find this strangely calming, and though I don’t dry them all and put them away immediately, just having clean dishes and a clear work surface ready for the next meal is very satisfying.
But more than this, in creative terms, I think it’s very appealing because you begin, and complete a whole task.
You run the hot water, add the liquid or detergent, wash the dishes and utensils one by one, then let them drain, wipe down work surfaces, empty the bowl, dry your hands and you’re done. The task is done, finished. And you feel, on however small a level, a sense of satisfaction, maybe even a little pride.
Which is unusual, and unlike what most of us deal with day to day in whichever creative projects we have on the go.
Usually (if you’re anything like me) there are multiple projects at various stages of completion, all calling in their own sweet unique voice for a little bit of attention and a splash of your precious creative energy.
Then there are the new ideas. And it feels like however many projects you have open, for each you’ll have maybe a dozen connected ideas or offshoot projects you could also explore. Per day!
On the upside, your creativity is thriving, and you’re never lacking in some new creative avenue to amble, wander or sprint down.
On the downside, you never finish anything. So you don’t appreciate and experience the entire creative process.
It’s like keep having babies then abandoning them or giving them away before they’re a year old, instead of being with them into adulthood, along with all the emotions, trials and triumphs that brings.
So, what can you do to complete more creative projects and bring those kids up into capable adults ready to venture into the world on their own?
Back to washing the dishes.
Pick a project that’s small and that you can complete in a short space of time. Be kind to yourself, enjoy yourself. The more you enjoy the simple art of washing dishes, the more rewarding the rest of your creative life will be too.