Day broke over the city I was working in. I expected scenes of a city scarred by the brute force of Mother Nature. The city next to us had received the brunt of the typhoon and there was tragically one or two people killed . However as I opened my window shades I saw, well, nothing. The sun shone brightly and promised to continue the unbearable heat that had been its trademark all summer. Life had return to normal. This did not bode well for me.
I had used the typhoon to cancel my trip to Shanghai. Shanghai and I have a love-hate relationship. I love Shanghai and Shanghai hates me. I have been into the city three times and each of the three times I have left with a crushed ego. Shanghai is the New York City of this millennium. There are fortunes to be made, adventures to be had and general coolness to be experienced by everyone …except me. True I have left there with nothing worse than a bruised ego and even more true what had happened to me would have been almost funny if it had happened to someone else, but it had not happened to someone else and my ego, despite it size, is one of the most delicate substances known to man. It is desperate dorky six grader in me still wanting to be liked by his peers (or in this case megaopolis) that keeps my coming back for emotional wedgies.
Of course there was a lot I could do. However the forecast called for a possibility of the return of typhoon driven winds and rain so I decided to do nothing. One may justly ask “Yes, but how would typhoon driven winds affect your ability to make, for example, your lesson plans?” I would simply look at my inquisitor blankly and mumble something and be content with the fact that I was not doing work for the highest of purely fictional safety standards
So I chose instead to stay in my hotel room and wash my clothes. Washing clothes by hand I have found had an odd meditative quality. Try as I might I am unable to be angry, or for that matter , even think when I am washing clothes by hand. There I find a great deal of solace in probably one of the most mundane of activities.
So I kneeled over the hotel’s bath tub. First I filled the bucket with warm water and let my clothes soak in it. Then I wrung out the clothes. As I wrung out my clothes I felt an odd sense of calmness sweeping over me. The stress of worrying about fighting an all-star cast of good guys who would stop at nothing to prevent me from defeating nature slipped into the background. The worries and stress of the past two years , which still nibble at my mind, became part of a different time and a different world.
I scrubbed my clothes with a bar of laundry soap and just as the soap breaks the physical tension that keeps the dirt attached to shirt, the emotional tension of an increasingly wasted life also was broken. I found solace and calm in really one of the oldest of life's house hold chores. It was like a well worn security blanket that, while kind of grungy, keeps all the badness life has to offer away.
I eventually finished the laundry and moved onto the rather interesting task of hanging my clothes up. During the past month one of my main activities in life has been finding places to hang my clothes. It takes skills that would put the greatest tetris user to shame.
All the time I was focused on the experience I had just had. Was I really finding a of calm in cleaning my laundry. Doing normal physical , and somewhat mundane, activity had become far more relaxing than any other technique I had tried before. The big pharmaceutical would of course be furious to find that out and no doubt have already sent a squad of ninja assassins to come and get me. Or I could hope beyond hope that they will ask me to bottle my experience in a pill and sell it for hundreds of dollars a bottle. Was there an app for finding this calmness? Should I develop one and sell it on Android based platforms? I thought instead to savor the moment and repeat it again often, the big pile of laundry hidden in my closet agreed with the idea.
I decided not to shower, owing more to do with the fact that I would have to shower with my newly clean socks hanging on the shower curtain. So I went outside for my daily fast food feast. No sooner had I gotten to a point where a quick retreat to my room was impossible did it start to rain. It seems that mother nature , and probably Shanghai, still had plans for me.china