When Matt and I were first married, we moved into our first apartment together. We were still in grad school, living on student loans and stipends, so I’m sure you can imagine the quality of our little apartment.
Like many of the budget friendly apartments in town, we didn’t have an in-unit washer and dryer. Our complex had a small, shared community laundry center, and to get there, we had to walk down the sidewalk, up some stairs, through the pool area, up a hill, down another sidewalk, and then finally into the laundry center.
When it was time to do laundry, we’d trek back and forth, carrying our laundry basket, piled high with clothes. I’d also have armfuls of hangers, as I’m one of those, “I hang dry everything” kind of people. We’d carry our laundry past people on their porches. We’d say excuse me as we overtook the sidewalks. And I’d smile awkwardly at the people lounging by the pool. (Oh don’t mind the delicates that just fell out of my laundry basket and onto the sidewalk!)
Every time we made the great laundry trek, I would grumble. I hated the hassle. I desperately wished for the day we could afford an apartment with a washer and dryer in it. At the time, that seemed like the greatest thing ever. A washer and dryer actually in our apartment?! We’d really be living then!
Fast forward to this past Sunday night. I plodded down the stairs and into our laundry room. As I moved my stuff from the washer to the dryer, hanging my sweaters and jeans, I found myself grumbling. “This laundry room is so small. I wish we had more room to hang dry all of our stuff. Oh yeah, and one of those fancy folding areas I see on Pinterest too. That would be amazing.”
And then, I heard myself. I caught myself. I thought back to our first apartment. Our “down the sidewalk, up some stairs, through the pool area, up the hill, and into the community laundry room” days. I realized, mid-reach into our washer, that the exact thing I was complaining about is the very thing I once wished for.
Isn’t that funny? And kind of messed up? Nine years ago, in home laundry seemed like a distant dream, a luxury I’d one day be thrilled to have. I must have muttered my wish for in home laundry 100 times, thinking how great it would be. Yet here I am, with that very thing, not noticing or appreciating it in the slightest.
We’re shaped to want more. And in moderation, that’s totally okay. But when we stop noticing what we have, we’re in trouble. When we stop noticing that the thing we’re doing, was something we once craved, we’re missing something. We’re missing a chance for gratitude. We’re missing a chance for fulfillment. And we’re missing a chance to see how rich our lives really are.
Right now, right this very second, you have something that you once longed for. You wished for it, prayed for it, and swore you’d be appreciative of it. Right now, you’re enjoying something that at one point, seemed far off and unattainable. Right now, you’ve got that very thing. And my guess? You don’t give it a second thought.
Don’t be so busy wanting more that you forget to see what you have. Don’t be so busy in future that you forget how far you’ve come. And don’t be so hellbent on getting more that you stop celebrating the tiny joys and treasures you’ve acquired. Your life is full of things that you once wished for, hoped for, and worked for. Make time to notice those. Make time to appreciate them. And make time to have them be enough.
I’m vowing to do laundry different from now on. I’m going to do laundry like I swore I would in the days of the great laundry trek. I’m going to be grateful for my laundry room, because I can. Because I promised I would. And because I owe it to myself and my life to be grateful for what I have.
What’s your version of the great laundry trek? What thing do you have now that at some point, was just a hope, dream, or wish? And most importantly, are you really appreciating and enjoying it the way you promised you would?
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