Tuesday, September 7, 2010

It Really is All Good, Even Washing Dishes

Well, I've no new recipes or food pictures or festivals to share with you tonight. I just have a lot of thoughts brewing and felt like sharing.

An old friend contacted me today with great news! She is in love! This is extraordinary because she is an older women who has had a lot of pain and difficult relationships in her life. She got divorced rather abruptly, after a 25 year marriage, when her husband came home one day and announced that he was in love with someone else. Then, she entered into a difficult marriage with an alcoholic who died from alcohol-related complications a year after they were married.

I became friends with her sometime during the second marriage. We worked together and I came to respect her a great deal professionally as well as personally. It's amazing what some of us are able to endure without going completely mad! The human spirit really is a resilient thing. Although, I admired her for her strength, I could tell there was a part of her that had been damaged. You know? I could sense that wall of protection that she had built around herself which kept everyone at arm's length.

Her happy announcement really caught me off guard because lately it seems like there has been a lot of bad news going around in my circle of friends(divorces, affairs, illnesses, etc.). How sad is that that I have come to expect bad news? Anyhow, it turns out that she is seeing someone that was a childhood friend that she has known for 50 years! All this time he has been right there, but, the circumstances were never right. Now, 2 marriage (for both) later, something has inexplicably changed and they are head-over-heels in love. She told me that he has brought to her a joy she hasn't felt, maybe ever. She said that there was piece of her that had died, but, is back and thriving. She said, I know this is an overused and cheesy saying, but, "It's all good".

You know, I've always hated that saying.... I've always been annoyed by the people that have said it. Usually they are shallow celebrity types that don't have the first clue what suffering and pain means. But, when my friend of 60 years said it tonight, I really felt like it was true.

I have been reading a book by Thich Nhat Hanh called Peace Is Every Step. This book teaches that in this hectic, goal -oriented society we live in, peace can be found in each moment. It has introduced me to the concept of mindfulness and finding joy even in the most mundane of daily activities. This is key in practicing yoga as you probably know. But, I have been able to experience this concept mostly in taking the time to cook a great meal and in enjoying it slowly. It's rejuvinating for me to slow down and really look at, smell, and taste the food I've prepared. Now mind you, with a family and career this doesn't even happen daily. But, for the times that it does happen, I am grateful.

As foodies, we all know that the worst part of cooking is DOING DISHES. Well, Thich Nat Hanh even has this covered in the book. He describes the act of doing dishes in a way that has revolutionized the way I feel about this chore(I mean moment). Now, that is one powerful feat! So, with that I leave you with an exerpt(about washing dishes, mindfully) from Thich Nat Hanh's Peace Is Every Step:

"To my mind, the idea that doing dishes is unpleasant can occur only when you aren't doing them. Once you are standing in front of the sink with you sleeves rolled up and your hands in the warm water, it is really quite pleasant. I enjoy taking my time with each dish, being fully aware of the dish, the water, and each movement of my hands. I know that if I hurry in order to eat dessert sooner, the time of washing dishes will be unpleasant and not worth living. That would be a pity, for each minute, each second of life is a miracle."

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