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The Simple Things

Miércoles, 4 de Enero de 2017

Read our January article.

2016, let’s face it, was a pretty tumultuous year. Great Britain and the United States faced a referendum and an election that left them both deeply divided, the change that seemed to sweep politics here in Spain never quite materialised, while conflict and climate change continued to wreak havoc on our planet and its people. Icons like Prince, David Bowie and Leonard Cohen passed away. It’s important, though, to remain positive in the wake of sadness and turmoil; artists like those I’ve mentioned left us invaluable gifts in the form of their beautiful music. One of my favourite singers released an album in which he countered depression with empathy, kindness and compassion. One song in particular finds him attempting to cheer up a lost, worried friend. “Sometimes it’s the simple things that make it all okay,” he tells him.

It’s not a new idea, but it is fantastic advice. The ‘simple things’ in life should be celebrated and enjoyed, especially in times of uncertainty. Nobody can do what they want all the time, and it’s important to recognise that happiness and respite often lie in the mundane, if you only open your eyes to them.

For example: I recently taught a class in which vocabulary related to housework was a major element. It was a fun class - teaching vocabulary is generally more fun than teaching grammar - and it enabled myself and my students to play memory games, mime the various household chores (take the rubbish out, do the washing, clean the floor etc.) and discuss how these tasks are divided among families at home. One of the questions in the book was about what tasks we liked, hated or didn’t mind doing.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not the cleanest or tidiest person in the world, and the concept of spending half an hour tidying things away, cleaning the bathroom or mopping floors is definitely not my idea of a great time. However, one thing I don’t mind doing - in fact, one thing that I genuinely like doing - is the dishes.

There’s no space in my kitchen for a dishwasher, but I wouldn’t get one even if there was. It’s a faintly dull task, for sure. But honestly - and I’m fully aware that this is probably the least exciting thing I could ever write - doing the dishes, is, for me, a pleasure. It’s a methodical task: easy to do, meditative in its own way, and capable of providing me with a small sense of accomplishment. Not to blow my own trumpet, but I’m pretty good at it as well; I spent years working in a restaurant kitchen when I was a teenager, washing dishes and desperately scrubbing the saucepans which the chefs routinely burnt with their scrambled eggs every morning. Now I often leave the dishes in the sink after dinner so I can sleepily attend to them the following morning while the coffee brews. It clears my head and makes for a pleasing way to start the day.

Of course, I realise I’m not alone in this. For some it’s doing the ironing, for others tinkering with a motorcycle. Some people derive inordinate amounts of pleasure from the careful folding and putting away of crisp, clean sheets. Cooking, for many people a chore, is a passion for others. It’s a matter of how you approach these things, I suppose; there are lots of things in life that we don’t have much choice in, but the fact remains that they have to be done. So, while I’ll do anything to avoid a really proper clean of my flat, once I eventually concede that cleaning is an unfortunate fact of life and one I must submit to, I’ll do everything I can to make it as enjoyable as possible. That usually involves seeking out an interesting podcast or putting on some music… And then what usually happens is that the act of cleaning takes far longer than it should, as I lose focus and concentrate more on what I’m listening to than the task at hand.

But one way or the other, I’ll complete what I’m doing, and it won’t have been so bad. In fact, more often than not it will have proved relatively enjoyable.

I wrote some months ago about the pleasure to be found - and the advantages of having - a routine, something that relates to the point I’m making here. There are so many things that exist outside our control, and, especially if you keep up with the news, the world can often seem a baffling, incomprehensible place. But there are plenty of things which we can dictate, and it’s important to keep that in mind; to enjoy life’s small pleasures and not take things for granted, whether that’s a few minutes washing the dishes in the morning, a pop song that has captured your imagination or a coffee and a croissant with a good friend.

In other words, sometimes it’s the simple things that make it all okay. Once again: I couldn’t agree more.

Profesores nativos titulados Exámenes oficiales Prestigioso método educativo

Granollers

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La Roca
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08430 La Roca

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Mollet del Vallès
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Parets del Vallès
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Sant Celoni
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tel. 93 860 35 13 santceloni@cambridgeschool.com Ver más
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