There is a part of me that has been biologically wired to take the reins of projects that are floundering. I really–and I mean really–hate to stand around when there are things that need doing, food that needs baking, parties that need planning, people that need, ahem, instructing. My dad’s family members–his sisters in particular–are also this way, so I think it’s in our blood.
Some people might call us bossy. I say we know how to get things done.
That is my way of introducing Lesson #2, something I’ve had a particularly hard time learning in this land without dishwashers:
2) Just because you don't like the way it's being done doesn't mean you should just do it yourself.
Let’s face it: most of the time, I’d rather just do it myself.
When I see my beautiful sinkful of soapy water contaminated by enormous chunks of food floating around in it because someone didn’t scrape off her plate before dunking it into the water, well, it’s a little hard not to just reach over her shoulder kindly and say, “Thanks, but I’ll do the dishes myself from now on.” (Inside I’m thinking even worse thoughts, trust me.)
I know it makes me sound like a brat, but I’m trying to be honest about this being a difficult thing for me.
On my better days, I realize that this community thing takes a lot of work, and we need each other’s contributions–even when the “other” seems to be doing it all wrong.
Did my friend volunteer to wash her own dish and the three dishes that were already abandoned on the counter? Yes. Are these dishes going to get clean regardless of whether I’m overseeing the process? Well, eventually. Does it matter how many times the sink needs to be drained and re-filled? No, not really.
Who would have thought that washing dishes in community would bring about such self-reflection? Not me. But I’ve been thinking about this one for awhile now.
Isn’t it just as important that we accept each other’s work–gratefully, humbly–as it is that we ourselves participate in the messy work of community?
Yes, it is.