I Love Doing (My) Dishes

I have a dishwasher at home and I don’t even use it. I don’t find it all that convenient, since it still requires me to rinse dishes, carefully load them, and measure out detergent. Seems to me like that’s already most of the work of just doing them by hand.

Besides, as someone who lives alone, I rarely have enough dishes to warrant such a large draw on resources. And what if I need a dish or utensil or tool immediately and not after the hour or so that it takes to complete the cycle?

Plus, using a dishwasher robs me of that Zen-like sense of calm I get from washing the dishes myself. It’s one of those mindless, repetitive actions — like taking a shower or driving a car — that puts me in a relaxed, meditative state. And better yet, by the time I’m done there are no more dishes and my apartment is cleaner, so order has actually been restored in exchange for my meditation. Win-win.

In that sense, washing dishes also appeals to my love of efficiency. I recall an old roommate once giving me flak for only having done half the dishes after a party since I was waiting for the ones on the rack to finish drying before continuing.

“Why don’t you just dry them with a towel?” he suggested.

“Why would I waste a single ounce of effort on something that time will do for me for free?”

Indeed, time is our most precious resource, and I look for those rare opportunities when I can let it work for, rather than against, me. To that end, my usual routine is washing my last meal’s dishes while cooking my next. That way I’m neither just standing there and waiting for my food to be done nor am I in any particular rush, so I can let the food cook at exactly the delicious, less-than-hurried pace needed to complete the dishes.

Dish washing is also a great way to jump-start a more ambitious project that actually does put a drain on my limited mental energy. The dishes are an easy, low-hanging assignment to complete for a quick win. Yes, in a sense it’s a form of procrastination, but only ten minutes of it and now my getting-things-done momentum has begun, my mind is a little quieter, and the apartment is less cluttered — always an asset when taking on the big things.

Lastly, doing dishes puts a final bow on that feeling of accomplishment in having prepared myself a healthful meal: I cooked, I nourished myself with my delectable creation, and I cleaned up after myself. Like a real-life adult…like the ones you see in the movies.

But don’t ask me to do your dishes — you’re on your own.