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?


Just purse your lips and blow

What if I told you that you could keep hundreds of pieces of art in your jacket pocket? That in the same little container you would hold a substance that could make grumpy people smile? That this very same bottle could be an instantaneous source of personal amusement without any batteries?

How much would you pay for something like that? What if I told you that your masterpieces could fly? How much would you pay now?

You’d probably pay less than two dollars, because this little cylinder of magic is inexpensive and available nearby. Don’t send money, don’t order anything online! What is this elixir of joy? Bubbles! Pustefix is my very favorite brand, but any kind will do, and I carry them all the time. I love Pustefix because the solution comes in a brightly-colored vial and the lid has a wand attached right to the top. No more fishing in the soap, no spilling in your pocket. And they make the most glorious globes of rainbow-hued glass, floating orbs that last a long time before they burst. All these things are important, my friends.

I carry bubbles for many reasons. They give me joy, and they help me spread joy to others. I’ve heard many a “right-on” and a giggle as I blow them amongst the skyscrapers or out into the streets. (For those who do not live in the Pacific Northwest, “right-on” is the local patois of approval.) I love to watch the fluid colors move on something that seems solid, and I find that when I slowly blow out a stream of bubbles I relax without effort. I’ve never smoked, but I imagine that the slow breathing is part of the thrill. Sometimes when I need to escape a hot nightclub for some air I even stand and blow bubbles with the smokers. At those times I’ll often pick one bubble to watch as it floats up into the streetlights. I watch that very same bubble until it suddenly dissolves into the air or disappears in the wind. Voila, meditation without cushions. No stiff knees, no Zen center required. Look—up in the sky—is it a bird? Is it a plane? No—it’s bubbles! Right-on.

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:
6. Find some bubbles of your very own—doesn’t matter what brand—and try it out for yourself.