I hate flossing. Describing how much I hate it thwarts all my powers of description. Knowing that I have to do it every day rubs salt in the wound. I will never escape!
The little annoyances of my life are magnified when they are things I know I will have to tolerate over and over. Pumping gas and unloading the dishwasher are also on the list with flossing. First world problems, I know. Sometimes I see the tedium of chores stretching out in front of me, and I groan.
It doesn’t stop there. Warming up? That one is grueling every time. I convince myself I have forgotten how to sing, labor over limbering the voice enough to stay in tune, all the while knowing that I will have to do it over again tomorrow.
Over and over. How much of life is repetition – and would we be alive without it? As I was loading the dishwasher this morning I thought of the risks we take every day: loving people, offering friendship and companionship, searching for connection. It wouldn’t be right to stop doing those things. Today when I looked with the wider perspective and saw life as a long path of emotional risks I almost threw up in the kitchen.
Lent begins this week – another taxing but valorous repetition. I love that the liturgical calendar makes sure we cover all of our bases at least once a year. As I prepare for another penitential season (and try to plan my annual pre-Lenten trip to Burger King) I’m learning to see the value in “over and over”. I work to improve over and over. I tell people I love them, over and over. I get out of bed in the morning, over and over, and if I wake harboring a bit of dread for the flossing that will come later in the day, so be it. It’s worth it.