5 January 2013
You must be enlightened. Thich Nhat Hahn writes a lot about the acts of both eating tangerines and washing dishes:
To my mind, the idea that doing dishes is unpleasant can occur only when you aren’t doing them. Once you are standing in front of the sink with your sleeves rolled up and your hands in the warm water, it is really quite pleasant. I enjoy taking my time with each dish, being fully aware of the dish, the water, and each movement of my hands. I know that if I hurry in order to eat dessert sooner, the time of washing dishes will be unpleasant and not worth living. That would be a pity, for each minute, each second of life is a miracle. The dishes themselves and the fact that I am here washing them are miracles!
If I am incapable of washing dishes joyfully, if I want to finish them quickly so I can go and have dessert, I will be equally incapable of enjoying my dessert. With the fork in my hand, I will be thinking about what to do next, and the texture and the flavour of the dessert, together with the pleasure of eating it, will be lost. I will always be dragged into the future, never able to live in the present moment.
Each thought, each action in the sunlight of awareness becomes sacred. In this light, no boundary exists between the sacred and the profane. I must confess it takes me a bit longer to do the dishes, but I live fully in every moment, and I am happy. Washing the dishes is at the same time a means and an end — that is, not only do we do the dishes in order to have clean dishes, we also do the dishes just to do the dishes, to live fully in each moment while washing them.
– Peace Is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh
I don’t think you’ve missed a step. I think you’re experiencing life while walking through it. So many other people hurry along not even looking where they’re going, or asking why, or thinking how does this fit? You talk about improvising, ad-libbing, finding your way, tinkering, trial and error, as though they are bad things. As if any of those are bad things.
Andrew and I just watched the documentary “Being in the World” by Tao Ruspoli, which is an examination of some of Heidegger’s ideas in the context of contemporary philosophers, masters and craftsmen. There is a cook from New Orleans, a carpenter from Japan, a flamenco musician from Spain. It’s a shame I haven’t gathered my thoughts enough to write to you about it tonight, because they talk SO MUCH about taking risks, about expanding past the rules, past the way things should be done, past the prescribed steps, past what is written in the sheet music. Life isn’t meant to be lived inside prescriptions and orders of steps. I’m planning on watching the film over again tomorrow and taking lots of notes. I’ll include some in my letter tomorrow, and some in your book that I am hoping to finish soon so that I can send it off to you. But don’t ever think that improvisation or finding your way is less effective, less important, less crucial than just a prescribed way of living that you think everyone else has the key to.
That’s my impassioned sermon for the day.
What a large volume of adventures may be grasped within the span of his little life by him who interests his heart in everything.
– Laurence Sterne
What I’ve come to learn is that the world is never saved in grand messianic gestures, but in the simple accumulation of gentle, soft, almost invisible acts of compassion.
– Chris Albani
Oh, and a poem for you and your tangerines:
Ruth L. Schwartz
On to yoga with Andrew before bed.
Good day, good night,