Not Quite Philosophy 101

“Live well. Laugh often. Cook Much.”
-The Farm Chicks

Sum up your philosophy of life in a few words. The Farm Chicks, Serena Thompson and Teri Edward, authors of “The Farm Chicks in the Kitchen” did it quite succinctly—live well, laugh often, cook much. Who doesn’t want to live well and laugh often? The last dual of words, cook much is their particular specialty. My philosophy is not quite as poetic and could even be called dull: get through the day. Now that may sound like a very workaday philosophy, somewhat uninspiring, and even dreary. But think about it. I did not say get through the day unscathed (although there are days that would be called successful if this were the only criteria.)

Getting through the day could include living well, laughing often, and if you are of a particular bent, cooking much. But it could also include that first cup of coffee in the morning and the morning paper. Or getting out there for a walk before the day’s work begins. I have a book of verses called “Present Moment Wonderful Moment” by Thich Nhat Hanh that celebrates every event of the day, from that first look in the mirror in the morning, to washing up and using the bathroom, to turning on your computer, using the telephone and even doing everyday chores.

Hanh says that, “Everyone has pain and suffering. It is possible to let go of this pain and smile at our suffering. We can only do this if we know that the present moment is the only moment in which we can be alive.” Obviously Thich Nhat Hanh is on a whole different plane or level of reality than I am (I have never been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize as he has). Smiling at my suffering is not yet something I have under my belt, but I do adhere to his philosophy that the present moment is really the only moment we have—and that is what I mean by “get through the day.” Getting through the day does not have to be mindless (I tell myself this every time I do the dishes by hand, as currently my dishwasher is being used for storage).

He even has a verse for doing the dishes. He says that the idea of doing dishes is unpleasant when we are not doing them, but once we are standing in front of the sink with our sleeves rolled up and our hands in the warm water, it is really not bad at all. He calls this utilitarian activity “sacred”. I have a friend who for years has expounded on the joys of doing dishes—the comfort of the warm water and suds, the quiet time in the kitchen by herself as no one ventures into the room while she does the dishes for fear of having to help.
The simple morning ritual of washing your hands is beautifully painted by Hanh as thus:

Water flows over these hands
May I use them skilfully
To preserve our precious planet.
He takes a simple everyday activity and turns it into a “mindful” activity—reminding us not to spoil our environment, or the days of this simple act of clean water flowing over our hands to cleanse them are numbered.
Using the telephone can be more than just ordering pizza. He writes:
Words can travel thousands of miles.
May my words create mutual understanding and love.
May they be as beautiful as gems
as lovely as flowers.

Getting through the day can be a thoughtful, lovely thing.  At the end of the day, if we keep the following verse in mind, we have not lived for naught: “The day is ending, our life is one day shorter. Let us look carefully at what we have done. Let us practice diligently….let us live deeply each moment in freedom, so time does not slip away meaninglessly.” There is something to be said for living poetically: gracefully with rhythm in a world that often strikes a discordant note or two.

Published in: on August 25, 2011 at 12:37 am  Comments (2)  
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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I wonder if I could ever convince myself or my kids that dish washing is sacred. I suppose there is that feeling of accomplishment afterwards.

    • if it works let me know–I will make a few other things around here “sacred”

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