M. SCOTT MORRIS: Looking for a joyful task? Do not ask

By M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal

I was in the middle of a one-hour cleaning spree. It felt good and stirred a 20-year-old memory.
The book’s title is lost, so is the author’s name, but one idea remains: Happiness can be found while washing dishes.
That was a shocking thought, but I was into experimentation back then and decided to test the theory by actually doing dishes to see what delights would well up.
The answer: None.
I forgot the book and went about my slovenly business, until sometime later when I faced another pile of filthy dishes.
My apartment had a window over the sink. It was early afternoon but the sky was dark, and the wind picked up to blow around backyard branches and leaves.
The gray and black clouds were followed by flashes of lightning and clashes of thunder, then the rain came. Wind-blown moisture hit me through the window screen.
And, yes, the dishes were an absolute joy that day.
It was proof of concept, I guess you could say. I could’ve built a life from that moment, secure in the knowledge that effort is the pathway to sparkling inner riches, if not outer ones.
That’s what I could’ve done, except I didn’t. Here it is two decades later and the struggle continues.
Can I get a witness?
I know I’m not alone, and I learned that lesson from an odd source, my sister. While my business is slovenly, hers tends to be orderly. At least, that was my view from the outside looking in.
Then I called her to coordinate last-minute details before going to her house. Here’s what she said: “I can’t believe it. When you get here every piece of laundry in my house will be clean. That’s never happened.”
It crushed my illusions of her perfection, I’ll tell you that. It also made a strange connection between us because the laundry at my house has been one load shy of complete a few times that I can remember, and it felt amazing. Not winning the lottery amazing, but far better than a kick in the pants.
They say we’re doomed to repeat lessons until we learn them. I know a neat home requires constant work, but things always break down after that.
Cleaning is a hobby for Jay Bell, my good friend from “Bradenton-Fun-in-the-Sun-Baby-Florida.” In younger, wilder days, I’ve sat on a couch with him and been sure neither one of us could move, then he got up and staggered his way through mopping the floor.
There was joy, too, but it came from the pleasure he got from calling me a slug and other names – many profane – to spotlight my laziness. Good times.
And I’m sure good times can come from cleaning. I believe it down to my crusty, muck-covered heart. If only I believed it in the house.

M. Scott Morris is a Daily Journal feature writer. Contact him at (662) 678-1589 or scott.morris@journalinc.com.

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