Monday, January 12, 2009

What Do YOU Think About?

First of all, thanks to all who commented on the last post. I responded to several of you there and would still love more ideas, so if you have anything to add that would be helpful.

There is an anecdote I read somewhere about Sister Hinckley that involves just about the best piece of advice a young woman could ever get. Her granddaughter was fretting a bit over what to study at university. Sister Hinckley told her to study anything but homemaking. When her granddaughter asked why, after all, it would likely be the most useful thing since she was really wanting to be a wife and a mother, the prophet's wife replied, "So that when you are doing the ironing you'll be able to think about something else." The granddaughter took the advice to heart and studied English literature. When she irons, she thinks of Shakespeare's sonnets and her grandmother.

I think that is really lovely.

Too often, stay-at-home-momming feels a bit like I've become a full-time expert at a lot of tasks I really hate. But tonight I had a moment of remembering who I was before all that.

While doing the dishes, I ran some water in a greasy pan I had tipped up slightly. The water pooled in the pan and the grease sat lightly on the top. I put a single drop of soap in the pan, but instead of scrubbing it into bubbles and watching them wash away quickly, I watched the drop of soap touch the edge of the greasy water and scatter the sheen from the top. For a moment I thought about the unique properties of water because of its chemical structure. I thought about surface tension and soap's ability to break that tension, allowing it to be effective against the grease. I thought about hydrophobic and hydrophillic molecules. I thought about the covalent bond that holds the amazing, simple, and perfect water molecule together.

Mostly I breathed a sigh of relief that such information--useless in many ways, but fascinating to me--still resides in my head; and that, perhaps more importantly, I can recall it.

So what fascinating thing do YOU think about when you do the dishes or the ironing or the laundry or the whatever household task needs imagination to get through?


Desmama said...

I think about what I've been reading lately, and so for me, recently, that's been a book called A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson. You might really enjoy it. I know I am, even though I'm a little skeptical of some assertions. It's still fascinating.

Janssen said...

What a lovely post.

I have to admit,I don't think about world history or how gunpowder changed the world (as my history professors might wish I did). Instead, I find my various to-do lists running on full-speed through my head "clean the bathroom. clean the bathroom. vacuum. vacuum."

On the other hand, sometimes I DO think about whatever book I'm currently reading or write scathing or loving reviews of them in my head.

Melanie said...

What a great post. I spent four years trying to justify my humanities degree to others. Now that I teach humanities I love to see my students use their new found knowledge of architecture, painting, etc. to see their familiar communities in a new way. I know that I haven't chosen the most "useful" course of study, but it's brought me so much joy and richness.

If you remember or come across the source for that anecdote will you please post it?

Suburban Hippie said...

Whatever I'm doing in life I am usually thinking about what I'm going to be doing next... or about what else needs to be done. These thoughts are interlaced with the sorts of random things I blog about.

FoxyJ said...

Sometimes I get a bit exasperated with my daughter's constant questions about everything (she's 5), but they've been a good springboard for investigating the world around us. Lately she's been very interested in the sun and the planets and how the earth rotates. I've learned a lot about the seasons! I've also read a lot about chemistry in the kitchen and I like to think about cooking stuff when I cook. I also often write blog posts or other papers in my head while I'm doing other tasks.

Kimberly Bluestocking said...

Melanie, joy is useful. :)

I don't tend to think about either subject I studied in school (linguistics and history) very often, but I believe college taught me HOW to think about and analyze things more effectively, and I use that all the time.

For the record, though, when I was strolling around the park with my toddler today, I found myself thinking about what I want to plant in my yard if we ever move into an actual house with some dirt of its own. I'm thinking some berry bushes, a couple varieties of avocados, an almond tree, and tons of raised planters for tomatoes and the like. Oh yeah, and some rhubarb. :)

chicagosapps said...

Sometimes I daydream about Colin Firth in Pride and Prejudice. Sometimes I daydream about travelling. Sometimes I make up arguments with John in my head. Sometimes I make checklists and plan meals in my head.

As for using my Spanish degree, I sometimes think up conversations in Spanish, but not too often.

CaLM RAPIDS said...

You've given me something to think about. I've always loved that story about Sis Hinckley and have told it to my daughters, but I've never applied it to myself before.
I guess I'm a planner so I'm constantly sorting and organizing in my brain. I'm keeping up with everyone's schedules and making sure things work out for everyone. I do take time for myself, but I should probably find more pondering time.

Sherry said...

Lately I think about very stressful things like jobs, inactive family members, my mom's poor health, jobs, and living with the in-laws. (Hi, I live with my in-laws. Again.)

I like to think about genealogy, but sometimes thinking about it makes me need to do it right away.

EmAndTrev said...

I'll probably just sound like I am echoing others' thoughts here, but I do sometimes feel that I get a little too mechanical in my tasks. Like Janssen said, I sometimes view my day like a checklist. "Work done? Check. Dinner in the oven? Check. Vacumm. Laundry. Grocery Shopping. Check. Check. Check." I find it's when I have good conversations or even just LISTEN to my three-year-old, that my brain flexes like it should. She has been very imaginative lately and has started asking me to tell her stories. She still loves to read, but she likes the made-up variety too. It makes me think about the world outside or things she might find interesting. My best bet at grown-up topics is to continue to read good books or have late-night discussions with my hubby.

Andrea said...

I love this post. I hope you do publish a book. I love your writing style. As I read it I thought about when I was a young undergrad and I promised myself that I would explain to my children how the hygroscopic forces in a water droplet help it adhere to the smooth shiny surface of a car. Cheers to a fellow science junkie!