Doing repetitive monotonous things are meant for machines, robots or ‘servants’ (if you are part of the Indian middle class).
I find some of these activities highly therapeutic and enjoyable.
Allow me to explain.
Let’s start with running. Who wants to keep a rhythmic motion minute after minute for hours together? Especially when the alternatives are an electric duet of squash or a languid stroll masquerading as a sport (yes – it’s golf I allude to).
After years of persisting with this particular monotonous activity, I have the answer to Why oh Why.
Every runner likes a fast time (PB in our lingo) every now and then but a particular class of runner is not single-minded about PB’s to the exclusion of everything else.
Why does this class of runner keep running when there’s no race in sight or when he’s not necessarily training for one?
Running, for this obsessive runner, is akin to meditation. In fact it is meditation. He runs to still his mind because he can’t (or won’t) meditate by physically sitting still.
If you are one of those types who just can’t sit still for protracted periods and have always wanted to meditate, well… running is just what the guru ordered for you.
No need to signup for that mindfulness workshop with gushing reviews from the resident startup czar or Arianna Huffington. Find yourself a nearby trail or a safe road (heck, even a treadmill will do)and you are sorted.
What about group meditation, you ask? We call it the weekend long run with a local running group. Finding a group is so so easy. And there’s no such thing as an obnoxious ‘group’. Sure.. there are self-absorbed, self-centered runners in every group but they are few and far in between and, as is running’s wont, the activity inexorably works its smoothening magic on them too.
There are other monotonous activities I find soothing as well.
Night driving on American interstate and county highways. Dark cabin with a lit dashboard. Twin lights spraying the black asphalt ribbon. Cruise control on. Classic rock station on. Only steering with a modicum of alertness required. Awake passenger(s) optional.
Doing dishes. Soaping the disparate dishes in a structured way. Set the faucet to just the optimal flow before rinsing. Arranging the dishes in just the optimal way to maximize draining and drying. The right music can be an experience enhancer for this activity.
Putting clothes out to dry.
Folding washed clothes.
Droning on the didgeridoo.
In one of Murakami’s novels, the protagonist would start ironing anytime his mind was disturbed. I can see ironing’s potential as a wonderfully soothing activity but it happens to be one of the few household chores we’ve outsourced – alas!
Closing note: Original title of this post was All the monotonous things. New title is supposed to maximize link bait. Did it work?