Sunday, March 11, 2018

Hello, Dishes

Thank god I waited until this morning to start a new post. Writing after drinking wine on a weekend night when the most exciting thing on the agenda is emptying the dishwasher probably isn't a good idea. Those are the times the f-bombs lob liberally from the ol' noggin. My goal here isn't to f-bomb you. We have enough violence in the world without me adding to it.

Ironically, I'm reading "The Book of Joy," a conversation between the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu. The book is based on a week-long conversation between the two friends facilitated by a writer, who wrote a book about their discussion. A friend suggested it to me. Though it may sound ludicrous, these guys would make a good morning show. The Lama/Tutu Coffee Hour. Reset your life with advice from the enlightened.

Far from it, I can't claim to be enlightened yet. And, generally speaking, my thoughts assume bad patterns. Negative outcomes. Dwellings on the past. Doggy downers. Basically, a rewinding shitshow (sorry about the vulgarity, couldn't get through this post without one). The Lama/Tutu duo advise that in order to overcome the negativity: think more of others than yourself. And meditate (if you're a lama/Buddhist) or pray (if you're an archibishop/Christian). One main focus should be on compassion. And, in a chemical combo of these two -- caring and compassion -- you'll be a better, happier person.

I'll buy that. Let me take an ohm break. Ah, there, now on with the post.
Do you have enough?

Back to the mundane dishes. To reframe, the Lama/Tutu way would reconsider the dishes as a representation of abundance. I may have a pile of dirties, but in reality, the dishes show that I've been able to feed myself, my kids, the occasional doe-eyed pet. The dishes also show that there's an element of leisure regarding when I actually need to clean them, because I have a machine that can do the hard work in less than an hour. I don't have to spend a soggy session soaping, rinsing, and drying those dishes, because the dishwasher does most of the work. What a miracle. Most of the world doesn't have this luxury. So, in many ways, the dishes, piled high, crusty and gross, aren't deleterious at all. They are symbolic of privilege and the vast resources available to me.

That certainly puts a different light on those dishes. Does it put a different light on my life?

Yes ... and no. Living in a modern culture, all the trappings of cultural expectations (usually, consumer items) make feeling contented an impossible ideal. How can I feel contented when I don't have X, X, or X, like my neighbor, or co-worker, or that beautiful model in the ad? Admittedly, I consume far less of the "false feed of need" by not watching commercial television or clicking on every idiotic Facebook ad, but it's there, nonetheless. The message is loud and clear: You won't be happy until you do/have/become THIS (insert car, vacation, relationship, book, method, status symbol, coffee grinder, retro LP collection, etc.). Ack. How will we ever overcome the bombardment?

Well, I start with the obvious, which is recognizing the messages never end and are constantly incoming. And, they sometimes are quite sneaky, i.e., "Why, of course, I want to be healthier by doing that new supplement regime touted by Oprah!" (Remember acai?)  

And, I'll read the book. And, I'll reread the book. Maybe, I'll even start to meditate. Would that be reaching for X, too? Depends, I suppose, on what I meditate on. Perhaps, just on my abundant dishes.