I hate ironing my clothes, for years as an adult I got away with out having to do this most mundane of tasks by limiting my outward apparel to ‘things that looked better with creases.’ You know the look I’m talking about, t-shirts, jeans and various forms of knitwear. The t-shirts one may argue should have been ironed, but let’s face it, an hour under a jumper that you happen to be wearing that day, usually makes the worst of the creases disappear.
However I digress, for years I attempted to live an ironing free life, and through a number of part time jobs with no uniform, and a few years of full time study it looked like I’d get my way. Even when I started working in an environment that required a shirt during the day, I evaded the hot metal plated hell that was ironing, by only doing the bits of the shirt that people would see, (sleeves and collar, if you have a waistcoat, and trouser legs). But this approach led me to my first trip to the theatre as an adult.
My friend had a spare ticket to the Phantom of the Opera, and I gladly accepted the ticket, however I was working before and didn’t have enough time to go get changed and to then get to Glasgow. No matter I think, I’ll put my shirt and suit into a bag, throw in a pair of my boots and I’ll get changed just before we leave. I left my stuff with my friend and then on arrival the next day was baffled to find it had moved. My bag was still in the same spot, but my clothes had been taken out, as had my shoes. Enters my friend with a sheepish look of apology and chastisement in one expression, holding my suit and boots.
To say that the manner in which I had packed my clothes was haphazard is perhaps an understatement. But the thought of what condition the suit within the bag might be, had been too much for my friend, he had liberated it and pressed it to within an inch of it’s life. My boots had been hand polished to a shine I’m not sure they had ever had. While my friend was embarrassed he had felt the need to do it, I was rather embarrassed to think that it had required such effort.
From this point I did start using the iron a little more thoroughly and my suits, and shirts seemed quite grateful for it. But I still didn’t feel the need to do the majority of my clothes.
Enter studying, two years ago I returned to the world of Higher Education when I enrolled on an evening course at a local college. Something which I have really enjoyed doing, but for as fun as the studying is, when it’s time to revise for important tests, it’s funny how quickly I reverted to my high school approach of doing anything other than studying, as long as I could call it ‘purposeful’. This of course leads us back to ironing.
While studying last year it occurred to me all of a sudden that ‘the pile’ (I invert this statement only to highlight the fact that this feature within my home is there so often that it has been given a name by my flatmate) that usually sits on the end of my couch, which I tended to extract clothes from on an as they are worn basis, needed to be dealt with. Ignoring the fact that this system of storing clean clothes had been in effect for a number of years, and had never been an issue up until that moment.
How curious it is that once this notion struck me, I felt compelled to do nothing other than iron. So to Tesco I went, after all to iron one requires an ironing board, a luxury I had not had since moving into my flat, once I had procured this I proudly set my board up in my bedroom. While there I had even spotted some fancy scented water, to put in the iron to make clothes smell extra nice (the things a study addled brain thinks are a good idea will never cease to amaze me). With Netflix in the background to keep me company, and a mountain of clothes some of which had never before come into contact with an iron, I had a whole day of this chore.
Perhaps, it was the fact that it was saving me from studying exponentials and logarithms. Perhaps, it was the smell of fresh laundry. Perhaps, it was just about knowing, that I had managed to procrastinate at an advanced level and still managed to feel as if I had accomplished something productive. But, from that point I was hooked. Now the iron, and its board have a semi-permanent spot in my flat and they get used on a daily basis. Since studying stopped the frequency of the huge bouts of ironing has also diminished, but I do still go over most of the clothes I wear, before putting them on.
I think the point of all of this is realising that some tasks, are not as compelling as others, at least until you have something even less compelling to do. But that doesn’t mean you should shy away from them. The confidence boost I get from knowing I look like I try with my appearance is something I didn’t ever think I’d achieve. Yet I would never have set out to change this aspect of my daily routine, as I didn’t know it was missing from my life until I did it.
Try things, it’s the only way of learning whether they are truly worth doing. The things, which make the biggest differences in our lives, are often little things, which we don’t even take into consideration. But, they can make a difference, what started out as procrastination for me, came with it a time to think about nothing other than what I was doing. Just as I was thinking about getting a particularly stubborn crease out of my shirtsleeve, a moment of clarity struck me, and I realised where I was going wrong with my studies.
Which leads me to my second conclusion of the day.
Taking time out to do nothing can sometimes be exactly what you need.