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Monday, May 29, 2017

The Purpose of Laundry

My friend, Judith, walked the Camino last summer, and she’s doing it again this summer. One Friday morning, Judith said she had a favor to ask me.

I perked up. Being asked to do a favor is a gift. Suddenly you feel of use, connected, capable. Someone feels secure enough in your friendship to ask something of you and you can DO SOMETHING for them.

“My Camino shirt – the one I wore every day – has a stain. I want to wear it again this time, but I can’t with that stain,” she said.
“I can do this! Laundry, a stain – I am a master launderer! I get out stains! I can rescue your shirt!” I practically leaped over the table in eagerness.

Indescribable joy flooded me. Just that morning, I’d been struggling through my Third Third search for Purpose, my relentless but unsuccessful quest for the Overarching Theme that would leave me feeling satisfied with my contribution to the world.

Now I had a Mission: clean Judith’s shirt!

My mother taught me how to do laundry in a very specific way. When I went off to college and discovered kids who just threw their whole load of laundry into the machine, I was appalled. My mother taught me to separate my load into three batches: whites; coloreds that take cold water because they’re nice; and dark coloreds that take hot water because they’re dirtier and tougher. Whites take bleach plus powdered detergent; coloreds take All plus Wisk on the collars and stains.

Over the years, I have modified somewhat. Last year, Wisk was discontinued. (Thankfully, my mother was no longer aware of this.) I added OxiClean to the stain-removal procedures, as well as Ivory bar soap. (After washing my face once with Ivory soap and having raw skin for weeks, I decided it was tough enough for laundry. It’s also the only thing that gets acrylic paint out of brushes and palettes.)

I rubbed Judith’s stain with Ivory and put it to soak in OxiClean. It looked gone, but I rubbed more Ivory soap on it, rinsed it, congratulated myself, and hung it up to dry. Oh, no! The stain was still there! This would take more work. After repeating all the steps, I used my specially-designated laundry toothbrush for the Ivory soap rubbing. I put my Wisk-replacement on it, and put it in the laundry.

Victory!
Tomorrow I will worry again about my Overarching Theme and Purpose; but today I added a little bit to the world’s happiness quotient and can let satisfaction seep in.

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