I’ve been thinking about creativity, about the creative activities I’m currently engaged in (writing, knitting, mosaic, rug making, cooking) and how much I enjoy them. The one thing they all have in common is that they each offer me the opportunity to do things differently. In every instance I can choose whether to follow a script / pattern, to use one as a guideline, or to create something from the ground up. Whichever option I choose, everything I make is new and different and hasn’t been made before – at least not by me.
On the other end of that scale is what I consider the least creative pastime imaginable: household chores. Somehow floors always need vacuuming, beds making, laundry washing, loos cleaning (etc) – and it’s a little tricky to come up with new and exciting ways to get these done. Emptying the washing machine today, I remembered my mother-in-law once telling me how she used to look back at her washing line with pride. She said it pleased her to see how sparkly clean the washing was and how nice it all looked in colour-coordinated sections…
I was young and the best response I could muster at the time was a smile. Perhaps it was the only response possible in that situation. It probably wouldn’t have been appropriate for me to tell her that her comment made me feel sad for what I perceived as the narrowness of her life – or to tell her that my feeling on looking over my shoulder at a line of washing is generally just one of relief that it was done and hung out. Again.
But was Ma-in-law actually trying to teach me something? Could she have noticed something of my newly-stay-at-home-mum frustrations and been trying to help? Perhaps she was using the laundry as an example to show that one can take pride in doing the simplest and most mundane of tasks well – and that no task need be inherently objectionable, particularly if viewed pragmatically.
With hindsight – and the knowledge that she was an kind, intelligent and creative woman – I feel it likely that the laundry comment did indeed have some deeper meaning along those lines. It’s also probable that this and other subtly delivered messages from her over the years are an example of what is now referred to as intergenerational learning. I was very fortunate to have her in my life and feel quite sure that she helped me to understand that aspiring to do something well, no matter how insignificant or repetitive that thing may be, is worthwhile in its own right – and can even be fun 🙂
Images sourced from Wikimedia Commons: