I gather them. The ones waaaay over there, deposited at the far side of the kitchen landscape by a slightly lazy diner, the ones which have wanderered away to another country entirely . . .and the ones right here next to, or in, the sink.
I reach for the faucet handle and pull upwards, angling it just so, to the place I know will yield the perfect temperature. Not so hot my hands will burn, but hotter perhaps, than for hand-washing. I know for the sake of the planet, I should not run the water the entire time, but I love the way it feels on my skin, the way it makes the suds sudsier, and the way the steam wafts up to my face. Meh, I don't have a dishwasher, so maybe it's a, ahem, wash as far as water-wasting. I never water my lawn, so I jauntily assert: Let the Water Run!
I so completely do not understand people who wear gloves to wash dishes. Why do it if not to feel the suds and water caress your skin? Ok, ok, I suppose you need to get the dishes washed. I'll give you that. But why deprive yourself of a treat for the senses, if your senses will open enough to receive the gift?
Washing dishes, for those of us who don't have a dishwasher, is a daily or many-times-a-day task. For a short time, I wanted a dishwasher, then finally decided that having one not only wouldn't add to my life, it would subtract from it. I'd lose a satisfying pleasure, and God knows most of us need more pleasures, especially sensory ones. On with the ceremony . . .
Sponges: I like fresh sponges, the kind with the scrubby part on one side, and the sponge part on the other. That way, if you have been a little neglectful of your dish duties, and some food has become a little stuck, you can flip your sponge over and scrape away the stubborn goo efficiently and satisfyingly. Once your sponge gets old, please do replace it. An icky sponge does not a sublime dishwashing experience make.
Dishsoap: Get thee to a health food store or a even Target shop and buy some lovely-scented soap. Or if you're lucky enough to live near a place which sells really fantastically aromatherapy-scented-with-real-essential-oils-dishsoap, well, buy it, I say! Life is too short to use dishsoap whose (whose?) smell you don't love, and don't even sleep with a man whose smell you don't love, either! Life is too short! But I digress . . .
So once you've collected the proper tools . . .your sponge and your deliciously scented soap, you may begin. Forget about the workday, forget about the bills which need to be paid, forget about the children arguing about whatever-it-was with each other, and most of all, forget about your brain. Oh, just try it for 10 minutes. Humor me, will you? And trust me. When I ask someone to trust me, they usually aren't sorry. So trust me.
Breathe. Yep, stand there in front of your sink, and breathe in and out a few times, and close your eyes. (the neighbors won't know what you're doing, it's ok) Open your eyes and watch the dishsoap drip, drip, drip onto the sponge . . .what color is the liquid? How fast or slow is it dripping onto the sponge? Can you smell it yet?
Procedure: Lather up the liquid until it's a diaphenous blubbly cloud on your sponge, and slowly take a dish in hand . . .pass the dish under the water, and lovingly and with care, (yes, I said lovingly) clean the dish as you might wash a loved one, a child or a lover, whichever sort of feeling you'd like to evoke. Really look at the dish, really see the water as it clears away the soap and the dish is left shiny and new again. New. And when you're satisfied with your work, lay it gently in the drainer or on a towel next to the sink.
Take up the next lucky dish, and proceed with your washing ceremony . . .careful not to clank dishes around, careful to move slowly and deliberately, careful to breathe, to feel, see, smell and hear everything going on at your warm, wet fingertips. Be there. Be only there.
What a perfect thing to accomplish! If you've done it well, not only will your dishes be clean and happy, but you will, I promise (trust me, remember?), feel a lot better than you did when you started, having taken a few moments of your day to be exquisitely Present, which is always the best gift one can give oneself. Happy Day of Life, and Happy Dishwashing!