Life is like…

IMG_2531With all due respect to Forrest Gump, I don’t believe that life is really like a box of chocolates.  Personally, I believe that everyday life is actually far more like doing laundry.  Because no matter how many loads I wash, I know there’s always going to be more that needs to be done.  I never get to the point where I can say, “That’s it!  I washed, dried, folded, and put away all those clothes, and now I’ll never have to do laundry again!”  Doing the laundry is an ongoing process, which makes it very much like so much of the rest of my life.

For instance, when it comes to home and yard maintenance, we no sooner complete one project than we are faced with another.  We repaired out driveway last week, which means it’s time to replace our garage door and dig up three dead bushes.  And at the Animal Shelter where I volunteer, no matter how many dogs I walk and am thrilled to see get adopted into their forever home, there are always more dogs coming in that need to be walked and cared for until it’s their turn to be adopted.  Just like the laundry, it’s a never-ending cycle.

Even when I think something is coming to an end, I often find out that it isn’t.  I went to the doctor yesterday for what I thought was the final check up on the varicose vein treatment on my right leg, so I was surprised when he strolled into the examining room bearing a tray of syringes.  Apparently, I needed another treatment for minor veins, so here I sit in my support hose for another week.  (They look so fashionable when worn with summer shorts and dresses.)  When I was leaving, he asked if I wanted to do the next treatment in six weeks or wait until Fall, when he’s going to laser the varicose vein in my left leg.  And so the fun continues….

Just like laundry, life presents us with both loads that are light and loads that are heavy, and we have no choice but to handle them all.  And just like when we do laundry, sometimes we are successful (“I got the stain out!”) and sometimes we fail (“That stain is permanent!”).  Occasionally, we do something stupid (such as running a new wool sweater through both the washing machine and the dryer), and all we can do is forgive ourselves and move on, hoping we manage to handle things better the next time.

I honestly believe that few things in life are a matter of “one and done,” and that a big part of success stems from our willingness to just keep plugging away to the best of our abilities.  And it helps to remember that it’s not just the bad stuff, or even the everyday mundane stuff, that keeps on coming, but the good stuff as well.  We will always have something to celebrate and be grateful for, if we are willing to look for it

I could say more, but I think I’ve made my point.  Also, I’ve got to go throw another load of laundry in.

85 thoughts on “Life is like…

  1. I like the comparison of laundry and life, because it is so true, things never end and there is rarely an end in sight. Hope you didn’t ruin your load of laundry…now I am off to do my load of laundry. 🙂

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  2. Well said (yet again), Ann. One of my least favorite househusbandly duties is laundry, and the redundancy is a big part of it. However, if I can extend your analogy a bit further, wouldn’t it be awesome if there was a “stain remover” for life?

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    • Oh, that would be so wonderful! I can think of at least several dozen “stains” I would like to have removed. (Wish I’d thought of that line when I was writing this post!!) Thanks, Gabe!

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  3. Every time I load the laundry machine now and my mood is so so, I remind myself how lucky I am to have the laundry machine and the dryer inside my house. And I don’t need to go downstairs​ with my laundry as when I lived in apartment building. Gives me a total different perspective on the house chores 🙂

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    • I still remember the first time I got my very own washing machine. We lived in an apartment that had room for it downstairs, and I got it free from a friend who didn’t need it. It was wonderful not to have to go to the laundry mat any more!

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  4. ah persistent effort is essential to get thru life! Love your analogy Ann. I am most grateful for water at the turn of a tap and power at the flick of a switch after living in northern India for years … and a washing machine, what a blessing! try it by hand for a while … 🙂

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      • HP in the Himalayas … yes I hear that towns get all the services but small remote villages … they would turn our power off at first snow fall for nine days so cities could have sufficient for their heating?!? Vice versa for summer … water came from a tap in the village, a good climb for me but at least it was downhill to take my water home … all water for drinking, cooking, washing, etc … one caretaker refused to allow me water, so more buckets … kept me fit!

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    • Yes, I have come to believe that persistence is one of the most important traits to have! As for having a washer and dryer in my house, I know I am lucky. I used to hate going to the laundry mat, and I can’t even imagine how hard it would be to wash all your clothes by hand, especially if you didn’t have running water in your home. We really are fortunate.

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  5. Ann, you made me laugh. Just came from laundry room to check on something on my computer when I found your post. You are so right – we are only 2 in our family….so where does all this laundry come from? Simple – this tremendous heat makes one sweat like……….!!!!!

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    • I am amazed at how much laundry my husband and I generate as well! Especially in the summer, because you are right about that sweating thing…. Thanks for the comment!

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  6. This is very good. I detect a steeling resolve in your words. Powerful.

    Have you read Jack Kornfield’s book? “After the ecstasy, the laundry : how the heart grows wise on the spiritual path.” He too uses the analogy. Yes, there are moments of revelation and glory and excitement and all that jazz… but as always, yet another pile of laundry (or stack of memos, or gardens to weed) awaits.

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    • I’ve never heard of that book, but I think I’d like it. Thanks for the tip! And I agree…we have our moments of joy and glory, but then it’s right back to the mundane business of everyday living.

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  7. Funny Ann! I like to think of the tumbing in warm air, or feeling the breeze when I dry outside, and then coming out clean to live an other day! We get to do over every time. 💛

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  8. I wash my stuff, she washes hers. It is not that we agreed to this arrangement, it is more like I wash my things during the day and she washes her stuff at night… but every once in a while I will find a note or get a text or phone call from her while she is working that reads or says:

    DO NOT TOUCH THE WASH

    “I am just washing my stuff,” I respond.

    DO NOT TOUCH THE WASH, she repeats.

    Gosh, you would think trust is important in marriage – and so is forgiveness.

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    • You are so funny! But yes, I agree that when trust fails, it’s time for the forgiveness. And I completely forgave my husband the time he washed my delicates with his brand-new blue jeans. And wore light-blue underwear for months afterwards, which is why the trust hasn’t quite kicked back in yet.

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  9. I think you hit on one of life’s more comforting lessons: Sometimes it’s the mundane, even at times the not-so-fun stuff like laundry that never ends, that provides a sense of being grounded, in place, steady, and that we belong, AND we must plow onward. There is comfort in knowing certain things will greet me tomorrow (well, maybe not laundry), but you get the idea. Life goes on–even with sad stuff–and the trick is in how we handle it. Just keep the stash(es) of chocolate full and life will be merry. 🙂

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    • I agree, routine can be good and grounding. And I think even dealing with the routines we’d rather skip is good, because it teaches us that we are stronger than we think and that we can endure. Sometimes it is good to be reminded that life goes on, no matter what! Thanks!

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  10. When I was a kid (teenager?) I used to think things like: just as soon as I get my drivers license, life will be perfect or as soon as I can move out of my parents house I’ll feel grown up or once I find the perfect boyfriend…. you get my drift too. Of course, none of these things made my life perfect: driving a car only made it more convenient to move from one unsatisfactory place to another; leaving home made me realize, there can be problems wherever you end up hanging your hat; and as far as men go: well 3 divorces should tell you how I did in that department! 🙂 Yes, life just keeps going along, and we keep adapting with it to each new thing we need to do, try, learn and laugh at!

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  11. ha ha, so true. I read your column before heading out the door for what was a very challenging work day. My husband and I often comment now and when we had our business, we would get one thing fixed and another thing would need to be fixed. It was like domino theory. I tried not mentioning what we were fixing to anyone in an effort to hide the truth and thinking through this superstition of mine that if it were out of sight or hearing…our good luck might last for the summer. But alas there is no shortcut to life…only theories which don’t pan out. Thanks for posting this truism.

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    • Thanks! I’m sorry today was such a challenging one, and hope tomorrow goes better. And it is true that as soon as you fix one problem, another pops up that needs fixing as well. It never ends, it seems, although some problems are certainly more serious than others. I’m just glad to know that good things keep coming too (although usually not as often as the challenging things….)

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  12. Loved this post Ann but first I have to say that I laughed out loud when I read the first few lines. My 16yo son has just watched Forest Gump for the first time yesterday and has been walking round saying “life is like a box of chocolates”. Ha! But I tend to agree more with you. Yep, the laundry never stops, nor the other chores or the weeds that keep growing, the dogs that need walking. Oh yes, I’m hearing you. But you’re right, the good things keep coming too and that’s what we need to focus on. Wonderful post and great analogy Ann. xo

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    • Thanks, Miriam! And what are the odds that I write about Forrest Gump on the same day our son watches the movies for the first time? Great minds….
      And you’re right, life never stops. The chores remind us we’re stronger and more persistent than we think, and the good stuff…well, that’s what keeps us going! Knowing that no matter how dark things may seem, there is always something good coming our way eventually.
      Thanks, as always, for your support, Miriam! It means a lot to me!

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  13. The points you raised in your interesting post on the never ending chores (both pleasant and unpleasant) have universal validity. As a teacher in retirement I often think of the piles and piles of students’ work I brought home for marking, So whether it is marking papers or doing the laundry or anything else in our daily lives we are faced with the feeling that things are never finished. Yet, every time we are done, there is that little bit of satisfaction, which makes life worth living. Thank you, dear Ann, for your inspirational post!

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    • Thanks, Peter! And I hadn’t thought about it from the teaching angle, but you are right, marking the endless papers is another example of the jobs that just keep coming. Still, as you say, we get the satisfaction of knowing that we are getting things done, and that does make life worth living!

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  14. Thanks for sharing your story.
    I inherited varicose veins from my mom and I’m treatment is on my list of things to do. Is the process painful? I scar easily so I’m also concerned with trying to fix one problem and causing another.

    Any feedback will be helpful. Hugs 🌷

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    • The process itself wasn’t painful, because I was numbed. They also gave me valium which helped with nerves. Whether or not there will be scarring might depend on how they do it. They used to make an incision and pull vein out, but now they make a smaller incision and insert a catheter and then a laser and simply sear it shut. So I had no scarring, but there was tenderness and bruising for several weeks afterwards.
      Also, the vein they seared shut was in my thigh, but the vein that was actually popping out was on my calf, so I had to have each vein treated separately. They did the thigh vein with the laser first, and that was the “big” procedure. Four weeks after that, they simply injected chemicals in the actual varicose vein in my calf and that was quick, with no numbing or valium needed. More bruising, and a bit sore afterwards. After that, he just did injections to get rid of the smaller veins, but that’s more cosmetic, I think, so you can probably forgo that if you want to.
      Overall, it’s not fun, but it was a whole lot better than the old fashioned “stripping” they used to do with varicose veins. My main advice is go to an actual vein doctor (that you trust) and have your options explained clearly to you. I’m going to do the other leg this Fall, so I’ll let you know how that goes! (I should have done both at once, but was leery and wanted to see how this went, so I did the worst one first.)

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  15. As Roseanne Rosannadanna used to say…it’s always something. If it’s not one thing it’s another.
    The simple wisdom of Lily Tomlin on SNL😊
    Good luck with the laundry..:)

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  16. My laundry basket is actually pretty much empty for once. And for a moment I was pretty proud of myself – until I read your post and got catapulted back to reality and what would happen the day after. And I thought: funny you should choose this analogy because I kind of did the same without even realizing it really; my website banner is a cloths line, swinging back and forth in a light summer breeze. Publicly airing my laundry on an ongoing basis, I guess…. Most of it is clean, though, except for some permanent stains from some hard-core rolling in the mud of life . 🙂

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    • I know! Once I have “finished” the laundry, I’m actually kind of angry when I see more dirty clothes being put in the basket, ready to be washed. But it is just like life: no sooner is one job completed than there is another one waiting to be done.
      But I love how my readers have taken the analogy even further…one of the joys of blogging is the comments which point out angles I never even thought of. Yes, publicly airing our laundry, clean or otherwise, is part of being a writer! And I agree about those permanent stains…we all have them!

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    • Me, too! I think I like painting rooms for the same reason. You start out one color, and when you’re done, it’s a fresh new color. And I can scratch it off my to do list!

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  17. That’s one on target analogy. Great job. I think of dusting as a lost cause and watch my husband mowing the fields around our farm, needing to start over by the time he finishes. It’s a forever cycle until frost. Somehow laundry is a bit more complete for me. I enjoy watching the pile become folded or hung and the basket being empty. Funny what we don’t mind doing in life that someone else would absolutely despise.

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    • I hadn’t even thought about how similar dusting and lawn mowing is to laundry…the same never ending cycle! But you are right that some of the cycles seem less like a chore than others, simply because we like to do them. And I agree with you about the dusting. If I had to choose between the two jobs, I’d pick laundry every time. At least I can see the neatly folded clothes in my laundry basket, and my restocked sock drawer. At my age, I can’t really see if a table is dusted or not without putting on my reading glasses. Or seeing if I can write my name on the surface: if I can, then it’s dusty!

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  18. Yes, point made. And I find this especially true as I get older and doctor appointments and procedures are more frequent and more intense. My new witty (maybe) saying is that I’m like the Bionic Woman, rebuilding my body one part at a time.
    As to laundry, I’ve always thought that if I did my laundry naked, then for at least half of the day I would be all caught up. Alas…

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  19. I relate to the laundry with two teenage boys in the house. But I have continual gratitude for my washing machine and dryer whenever I think of my grandmother raising 4 boys on a dairy farm doing all the washing by hand. I don’t know how she did it all. I don’t even have to go to the laundromat anymore.

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    • Your poor grandmother! Running a dairy farm is hard enough now, I can’t even imagine how it was before we had so many conveniences. When we got our first washing machine and dryer, I was SO thankful that my days of going to the laundromat were over. Thanks for the comment!

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  20. Nice post. I’ve learned that even the mundane stuff can be pleasant if we are mindful of it. Like Annie Dillard wrote, “How we spend our days is how we spend our lives.” If we resent our chores and rush through them we wind up missing our lives. Every moment holds the potential for inner peace.

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  21. You may have just suggested a theme for somebody’s blog. Posts about laundry. Man, there’s a thousand posts that could be written on that subject: In Search of Missing Socks, No Shrinkage, Oops, Cotton vs. polyester, etc.

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  23. Hello Ann,

    great analogy. Life is like a circle, and almost the hole life is the same for most of the people.Because of that we need to measure our life with the numbers of moment for which we remained breathless.

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