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Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart

every day, the laundry: a tale of Buddha nature ~

I hate laundry. Really — I mean it. I once told my sons, in a fit of I’ve had it! that I would remember their childhood years as great mountains of laundry. And while I also remember games and hugs and shared confidences and the smell of baby hair, I still remember laundry, too.

It’s just that laundry NEVER GOES AWAY. It’s always there, multiplying in secret corners — a closet, a bathroom, a floor, the top of a washer… And as soon as you do it, you find stuff you missed. What can we say about that except ARGH!?

So it’s kind of like Sisyphus, rolling the rock upwards eternally. Which even Camus casts as a kind of  Buddhist meditation: as Sisyphus accepts the inevitability of his fate, he ultimately achieves contentment, Camus says.

And that’s what happened this morning. Not that I had some moment of happiness doing the laundry, but that these past months of working consciously, in an ongoing fashion, at accepting what I can’t change, led me to see laundry as a gift. Obviously if you have a lot of laundry, you have a lot of stuff. Not so good, on one level. But on another? We’re not hurting for clothes.

Or hot water. :) Having lived in places where hot water — or any water! — may run only 2-3 times weekly, I never take it for granted. And clean sheets — what transient bliss is better than sinking into a bed made w/ freshly laundered sheets?

If I take time, laundry becomes a meditation. Not a joy, ever — I’m not trying to change my nature! But I can rest in the actions of folding, filling washer compartments, burying my face in a warm sheet. If I work at it, I can see laundry as a fight against entropy, even. Creating order from the chaos that seems to be just one day away at our house. I remember that the Buddha said everything has Buddha nature — including actions. So the laundry has… Buddha nature?

Once I read that happiness is making peace with (even learning to enjoy) the necessary tasks of life. Laundry’s that for me. And I’m making my peace with it. At least today.

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