Laundry and Disorder


• Brooklyn, NY

It’s around 11:00 o’clock, Wednesday night at the local Lavanderia Express. In the back, after aisles of stainless steel washing machines and red laminate, is a wall of large double-decker dryers. I remove and unroll a freshly clean sock from the hot drum of dryer № 371.

And as I do so, I realize how I am resisting the disorder of the universe.

This one action encapsulates life’s desire towards order. Nearly everything we do is resisting the ever-present tendency towards disorder. Originally my sock was clean, and became dirty, as socks do. And in washing it, it rolled itself inside-out, as socks do. Try as I might, my attempts to bring my socks back to an ordered state rarely last long. Preservation of an ordered state is effectively impossible.

In some sense, it’s startling how life deteriorates without maintenance. We eat, drink, sleep, bathe, work, exercise. All to preserve the status quo. When we stop, disorder rushes into our lives: we become hungry, thirsty, tired, dirty, unpaid2, unfit.

But disorder arrives in more profound ways as well. Our relationships with others falter if we don’t keep in contact. Our skills become rusty if we don’t continue to use them. Our memories disappear if we don’t recall them.3

Let us be vigilant, and resist the disorder. It can be frustrating that life requires continual upkeep, but isn’t that what makes it fun?

  1. I’m more than sure that this was the right dryer. I recalled this number in particular, and I double-checked it at the laundromat this morning. ↩︎

  2. And perhaps, uninspired. ↩︎

  3. Although, recalling memories makes them prone to inaccuracies… ↩︎