Blogger: Rachelle Gardner
“The best time for planning a book is when you’re doing the dishes.” -Agatha Christie
Lately I’ve been thinking about the importance of the menial, everyday tasks in our lives, and how they provide wonderful opportunities to let our minds loose to roam, explore, and process.
We live in such a noisy world. Whenever we’re driving or folding laundry or jogging, it’s tempting to always have our iPods or cell phones in our ears, or the TV or radio on in the background.
But I’ve become more aware of the importance of allowing our minds to be free once in awhile. We can create silence—when our hands are busy—so that we can hear our own thoughts, so that ideas can form, so that our subconscious can help us solve problems, so that we can hear the voice of God. I believe that when we constantly have “input” into our brains in the form of music or voices, we rob ourselves of the crucial processing time our minds need in order to be creative and access all of our intelligence.
I’m not talking about dedicated prayer or meditation time, which is important in its own right. I’m talking about doing the dishes, walking the dog. Cleaning out the car or driving to work. Hiking or riding a bike. Times when our hands and bodies are busy doing something that doesn’t require our entire brain’s worth of concentration. These times can be valuable “free space” for our minds. We can enter them with no agenda except to have no agenda. We can get used to the solitude and eventually come to appreciate the riches found in the quiet.
One of my favorite books is The Quotidian Mysteries by Kathleen Norris. In it, she encourages us to treasure rare moments of solitude and silence and to avoid distracting ourselves with television and the like. The menial tasks of life, she says, can be “islands of holiness” in an otherwise chaotic and noisy life. This has been hard for me to get used to. I’m constantly downloading podcasts from iTunes and audiobooks from Audible. But I’m trying to spend more time in silence.
If you are a writer, then these times are important for you. Your brain needs open space to create, to solve plot and character problems, to clarify your position on an issue you’re exploring in your writing, to come up with just the right word for that problematic sentence you’ve struggled with.
Do you need to start looking at your daily “quotidian” tasks in a new light? Or are you already there? If you’re not, perhaps you can join me in seeing those moments as a gift from God, a time to allow the silence and discover its treasures.
What will you find there?