the washing machine analogy

May 23, 2009 § 4 Comments


The fork and its unintended purpose 🙂

Ariel: Scuttle – look what we found.

Flounder: Yeah – we were in this sunken ship – it was really creepy.

Scuttle: Human stuff, huh? Hey, lemme see. (Picks up fork.) Look at this. Wow – this is special – this is very, very unusual.

Ariel: What? What is it?

Scuttle: It’s a dinglehopper! Humans use these little babies . . . to straighten their hair out. See – just a little twirl here an’ a yank there and – voiolay! You got an aesthetically pleasing configuration of hair that humans go nuts over!


An earnest Yuan Jian (newly baptised “Moses”) came up to me.

“I was thinking,” he said, “maybe instead of seeing it as we being washing machines already formed, maybe we’re like the a washing machine in construction.”

Earlier, I had shared that we could think of ourselves as washing machines.  I hadn’t said so much then, but I shall elaborate more here. Imagine a washing machine looking at itself in the middle of nowhere. Would it know what it was for? It feels it’s little tummy and notices that it can spin! And ooh, there’re little holes in the tummy. But what for? And the buttons for adjusting the temperature! Was it a, umm, heater?

There’re many purposes the machine could perform. It could take little ants’ children in its little tummy holes and spin them round and round (slowly lar). It could rock various creatures to sleep. It could be a fish tank. All possibly good purposes, but none which, if the washing machine engaged in, would help it reach it’s full potential.

How then would the washing machine know what it was for? Having a brain could help. Trial and error, though tedious, could prove eventually useful. But still the easiest, most direct way would be to ask it’s inventor.

Very much like washing machines, but infinitely more intricate and wonderfully made, human CREATURES should, when they want to know their purpose, ask their CREATOR. What this requires is a connection with the creator. Simply said, in order to fulfill our being, we need to be in touch with God.

But back to Yuan Jian. The excitement in his eyes told me he was going somewhere with his idea. The way he saw it, we could also be a machine in construction. Maybe when we look at ourselves, we’ll notice the parts(in the physical/moral/spiritual/emotional spheres) and wonder what they’re for. As our creator constructs us, perhaps they’re certain changes we don’t like, certain processes which hurt us. At that point of construction, we do not know what exactly our creator is doing, and may feel both hurt and confused. What a state to be in. But when the creator is finally done, we notice the different parts fitting into a whole. We come to understand why certain processes were needed in the construction process. We look at new self, understand our purpose, perhaps see how we fit into a whole system of things (like how the washing machine works together with the other household appliances to make housework much lighter). I’m sure that at that after that moment of realisation, we will be filled with joy. But now, but now it’s construction 🙂

One insight Justin gleaned from this analogy I also identify with, and will keep with me.  If you are a washing machine, and know you are a washing machine, you can’t help washing clothes. In cheem-er words, if you BE a washing machine, you can’t help DOing the washing of clothes. 

When we realise our ‘being’, ‘doing’ comes naturally.

The task at hand, then, is to find how what is the BEING that we are, and BE that. Tough one! And so we continually look to our creator for guidance.


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§ 4 Responses to the washing machine analogy

  • Dom says:

    Wonderful! 🙂

  • fi says:

    that was nice serene 🙂
    yeah i wanted to tell yu that your analogy really touched yuan jian – he mentioned it during his sharing (after you left i think?) and said that it was his search for his purpose to and meaning in life that drew him to Catholicism. 🙂

    • Serene says:

      thanks Dom and Fi! Good to know that it benefitted someone. I don’t usually like to share or talk in a big group but some voice in my head told me to do so. How the spirit works 🙂

  • fi says:

    Indeed! 🙂

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