Down in my heart

Today is one of my busy days—so much to do, so many places to be. When I’m awash in errands and work, I wish I was home instead, washing dishes. I have housemates, and we’ve got a dishwasher, but I actually prefer to do plates and cups in a sink full of suds. The world can be screaming its hubbub all around me, but I am happy with my hands submerged, the lemony scent of Joy rising up from my work.

It’s not just the water that I like, although I do love the water. Showers, tubs, pools and jacuzzis all float my boat, as the saying goes. I like to wash dishes for the tactile pleasure, and I love the feeling of accomplishment. It’s so easy to see progress. After a meal, or even a few meals, you have a stack of grubby plates and cups. Crumbs and sauces stick to the silverware. Half an hour of good clean fun and you’ve got a shiny stack of dishes. You might even be able to convince someone cute to help you dry them.

I like to wash dishes at Zen retreats, too. I am often tasked to help in the kitchen, and the work is a nice break from sitting meditation. Being still all day is not really as appealing as it sounds. When I get a chance to move after hours on my cushion I am ready to take on the world, or at least some dirty bowls. It feels almost sinful.

This blog is about joy, and I’m going to include the dishwashing fluid within its boundaries. I think the advertising executives named their soap Joy so that people would imagine a happier kitchen. Yes, it’s a marketing trick, but I don’t think their intention really matters. Who can’t benefit from a cheerful bottle on their countertop reminding them of one of life’s greatest necessities? Isn’t it joyful to make your home a nicer place, to take care of the person who matters the most? I think everything is connected, so I know that if I start by making my little corner of the universe all squeaky clean that feeling will spread out in bright yellow waves. All this for a squirt of soap and some hot water—what a bargain!

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:

68. Wash some dishes by hand. Really pay attention to what you are doing. Did you enjoy it?

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