The Miracle Of Mindfulness

I sat down for dinner tonight at 10:54 p.m. It was just lettuce, nuts, and tofu, so I feel o.k. about eating so late. But still, can I guy get a mellow, post-triathlon Monday?

I woke up pretty early this morning, before the alarm even, on account of the fact that I basically ate and slept in alternating shifts all weekend. Excepting the two hours forty that I was swimming a mile, riding twenty-five, and running six, it was a relaxing weekend. So I was well rested. Sore in all kinds of new places, but well rested.

So I woke up early and surveyed my apartment. It was a wreck. Dirty clothes were strewn everywhere, garbage had piled in the corners, musical instruments were tossed about on my desk, The Sunday New York Times was sprawled across the living room floor, and the sink… well, it was piled — and I mean piled with dishes. Something had to be done. And I had the time to do it. There was, after all, no way I was going running.

I make the bed, fold the clothes, and stumble out to the kitchen (which, in classic New York City style, is little more than a closet with an oven and some cupboards). There, before me, filling the sink and spilling over onto the stovetop, counters, and every horizontal surface, is nearly every cup, saucer, plate, bowl, knife, fork, and spoon I own.

I read a book in college called, ‘The Miracle of Mindfulness.’ It’s still in print, check Amazon. Anyway, it’s by this dude, Thich Nhat Hanh. He’s this totally chill Zen Buddhist master. Big smile, glasses, robe — the works. He writes about practicing meditation every moment through finding the joy in the mundane. His metaphor in ‘The Miracle of Mindfulness’ is dishes. He writes about washing dishes to wash dishes. Neither hurrying, nor fixating (hello, OCD!), he teaches about finding pleasure in the task, and in the process.

It’s simple stuff. I distinctly recall trying to invoke his lessons as I cleaned up after my seven, highly slovenly roommates some twelve years ago. I think it worked pretty well then, but I may have taken a bit of a shortcut with the old bong. Either way, it didn’t with me over time. As the years tick away, I find myself increasinly running from destination to destination, executing tasks, and crossing items off lists. Sometimes I forget the joy of being there.

Until now.

Not that I was gettin’ all Zen on my dishes this morning. To the contrary, I was trying to get them done as soon as possible so that I could watch the end of my Blockbuster rental. (Ok, ok: it was Ben Affleck’s ‘Paycheck.’ Are you satisfied?) I was totally not in the moment. And I certainly didn’t get any closer to the moment until, well… until just now. Seventeen hours after my day started, bone tired and brittle from the day, not to mention the day before, I remembered Thich Nhat Hanh, and a beautiful Victoria Williams song that so nicely sums it all up…

This moment will never come again
I know this because it has never been before
I listen to the rain outside the door
A thousand voices singin’ songs that ain’t been sung before

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