Tuesday, March 08, 2011

This modern life

Sometimes I wake up at night thinking about bees, about colony collapse, enmeshed with exponential glacial melt and chemically dispersed oil spills, about my graying hair, and my very young child, thinking -- something has got to give -- but it actually doesn't, does it? I'm not owed anything giving. When I run, when I am running and fighting inward against it, curling my toes, my mantra is "one has no reasonable expectation to comfort" which is to say, no there is no actual basis for thinking I deserve to be or ever will be comfortable. Usually, I get preoccupied by parsing the sentence, over and over I try to make sense of it for even if it is grammatically correct, of which I am not certain, it does not immediately, intuitively make sense. I can't remember where I adapted it from, a Buddhist idea at least I know. What I find every time is, exactly as it is means exactly what I want it to mean.

Does it seem harsh to remind myself that life is harsh? It feels kind too. There is a cloying, and deeply flawed, lulling sense of entitlement about this modern life. I was recently listening to a radio story about dish-washing machine soap, how some states have banned phosphates in detergents because of their adverse effects on streams, fish, eco-systems, etc. The company of course, found it not feasible to manufacture two kinds of detergent, and began selling the same phosphate-free detergent in other states where there was no such ban in place.

The reporter was interviewing a woman who was outraged, OUTRAGED that her dishes were spotty when they came out of the dishwasher. She bought trisodium phosphate from the hardware store and mixed her own detergent. The reporter says "so you just can't do with out them phosphates?" and after she (baselessly) dismisses the science (whatever!) she answers "the dishes weren't coming clean." Ipso-facto, the world can burn! I felt a very un-Buddhist, compassion-less desire to throttle her. That sense of entitlement reminds me why I have to force myself into discomfort, why I want to be the one who inflicts it. The truth is, if I don't run I see a future of decrepitude, of aches, atrophy, and regret -- a pain far worse than the discomfort of getting out of a warm bed on a cold, dark morning. Life is going to take it's pound of flesh. I find some dignity is standing up, accepting that it will, and choosing how I give it.

My dishes come out clean so maybe I don't know much about the heartbreak of dirty dishes. I haven't checked the ingredients on my box of detergent to determine its phosphate status, so who am I to talk about sacrifice? I am not qualified, its true. It could be argued that I run for vanity as much as health. It might be true, but the truth is, what keeps me going is the fact that I have pain due me and the only thing I can do about it is decide how I take it.

This is a good example of muddy thinking. I'm still not clear, even to myself what the hell phosphate-laden streams have to do with running in the morning, but for some reason, these analogies submerge from my subconscious, conflated, to argue against doing the easy, dishonest thing. Life isn't easy. You aren't owed clean dishes. Your dishes are not more important than fish in streams. Fucking get over it. Get out of bed. Go. Run.


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