It's All Worthy
Saturday, June 2, 2012 at 10:03AM
Elena Taurke in Busyness, Feelings, Inclusion, Manual Labor, What's the Rush?

If you've read What's the Rush?, you already know how my mind complicates the effort to walk a simple line from here to there. What I learned is that I need to surrender to my mind's need to wander, and book myself some play time, some empty time to do and think whatever I want.  Oh yes, it solves everything, except that I have to rush like crazy to get to my scheduled play time.  

THERE.  Play is over there.  I just gotta get through this first.  Finish the freaking dishes, walk the dog--POOP ALREADY!  I gotta get out of  here! So I can get there.  Without realizing it, I'm holding my breath, mind firmly affixed to THE GOAL, muscles tight, teeth clenched, brow furrowed, eyes beady on the prize.   Am I actually moving any faster?  Sadly, no, but I am dropping things and bumping into things, howling in pain and frustration because now I have to spend an extra two and a half minutes cleaning up the stuff I  just knocked onto the floor.  

Not.  Enlightenment.  Nuh-uh.  

There's a zen story that I'll mis-paraphrase here.  A monk asks a wise teacher for the Way to Enlightenment (or something like that) and the teacher asks right back:  Did you eat your rice?   Yes, says the monk.  Then go wash your bowls, replies the sage teacher.

Are you kidding me?  I have better things to do! 

Actually, of course there is absolutely nothing better to do than wash the dishes if what I'm doing right now is washing the dishes.   Be present, scream all the new age professionals right along with the sage teacher.   This is not so simple.   Does this mean I should  just enjoy  the washing?  How can I, if I'm thinking it is a waste of time?  What's to enjoy, anyway?  It's just manual labor.   Haven't we learned to delegate all that stuff, or buy it shrink-wrapped so we can dump, not wash?   Working with our hands is classified as unworthy by implication when we employ time-saving devices like dishwashers and choppers, or employ people whom we pay a LOT less than we pay ourselves.   And yet, when I give myself a project, dedicate time to it--embroidery or crocheting for example, I feel a deep calm as my mind begins to knit its flailing tendrils into webs of coherent thought.   What's so different about washing the dishes?  The warm water, the slip of the soap, the sound of clink and swish.   

I must make a radical shift.  I must fall in love with the dishes.  They are worthy of attention.  So is my dog.  So are my teeth, which I am entrusted to brush.   If no activity is better than another activity, then I can just be here.   No rush.  Not going anywhere.  

So, of course, just now when I actually took a break to wash the dishes I realized how uncanny the connection between this radical shift and my mission to include all outsiders.   The dishes are no longer other, no longer them, they are me.  





Note:  The dilemma of Rushing spawned a whole new section--Work With It.  

Article originally appeared on PsychoZen (
See website for complete article licensing information.