The Sunlight of Awareness

Clump #23:  Contact friend and record birthdays on two calendars.

Here’s another item from the hidden to-do list uncovered during the bureau-blasting of the previous post.  An old, dear friend had sent me the address and phone number of another old friend on this lovely card. I had meant to contact the second friend right away.  Putting the card on the bureau would remind me.  As always, the longer anything is put off, the more prone to becoming lost it gets, the more guilt is attached, and the worse the detonation when uncovered.  Clutter-mines are guilt bombs.


What was holding me back?  Well, I hadn’t called this friend in many years.  Does she want to hear from me?  It’s a cold call, and the product I’m selling is myself.  I guess fear of rejection is at the bottom of the pit, but this is mostly operating in my subconscious.  It withers in the light of day, on the typed page.  I finally called her and left a message on her answering machine.  I wasn’t sure (from the odd sound) whether it recorded, so I followed up with a hand-written note.  I’ve done my part; I can feel joy at the sight of irises again.

Next up: I had not entered birthdays in my 2013 calendar, and had missed my brother-in-law’s birthday.  More guilt!  Another friend gave me a perpetual calendar this year.  Very thoughtful.  I entered important dates on it and on the kitchen calendar with quotes by Zen Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh.  I’ll do better next year!


I sent my brother-in-law an article I had been saving since July 9, 2011! He is a Three Stooges fan, and I thought he’d enjoy reading about The Stoogeum, located in Philadelphia,”The world’s first and only museum dedicated entirely to the Three Stooges.”  Occasionally treasure is mined from the depths of piles.


Our dishwasher is on the blink, so while waiting for the repair we are hand-washing our dishes.  I guess the influence of the Thich Nhat Hanh calendar made me think of his profound advice against rushing through dish-washing to get to dessert.  Mixed up in my mind, I thought it was rushing to eat an orange.  (Another mindfulness exercise.)


But with the image of an orange in mind, I noticed there was one right next to me at that moment.


Here is the quote from Thich Nhat Hanh’s book, Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life 

“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!  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 flavor 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.”