Waking up to the laundry.
I’ve returned from time away with my family in the Caribbean and the spacious and restful quality of vacation seems to be lingering forward even as work begins, laundry piles up and dishes need to be emptied from the dishwasher. It is an interesting paradox to experience. I return to life pretty much as it was, yet it all feels slightly different.
There is a zen saying, “Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water”. I am not claiming enlightenment, but I do feel more spacious in myself and my experience. Awakening or enlightenment can arise in varied degrees, but I feel it is much more subtle than we otherwise might imagine it to be. It is not always some grand and blissful experience. Often it may be a more subtle enlivening of that which is ordinary. In fact, the simple things that we miss can come alive in extraordinary ways … the breath, the wind and, yes, even the everyday mundane task of unloading the dryer and folding the laundry. There is space for it all. Enlightenment is simply feeling a little (or more) lighter in our experience. There is room for it to come and go without the constant and habitual identification and controlling.
So as I return, and life chores need attending and my girls continue to play and fight fiercely at times, there is this quality of allowing life to be as it is. And even when the dialogue arises, “I wish my girls would quiet down” or “I’m tired of the laundry”, these thoughts can come and go as well.
Everything is the same and everything is different. Life is still ordinary, and simultaneously precious and extraordinary.
Marcel Proust describes my feeling well. “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”
While the spaciousness and freshness may subside into the background at any moment, I am thankful for it now and trust it is always here waiting.