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.


eclectic said...

To quote the immortal Westley in The Princess Bride: "Life IS pain, Highness."

That being acknowledged, however, there's a 14-year-old in this house, in a first-world country, who'll go on and on and on about how this or that or the other is so completely 'not fair', or totally unreasonable. Teaching the pain theory is more difficult than at first it appears.

And anyway, I'm going to ride my bike or go for a snowshoe instead of a run. I fecking hate to run. It's totally unfair for you to make me run. ;)

eclectic said...

P.S. Really cool photos!

Kristiana said...

i'm too lazy to wrestle my bike out of the basement, or i'd go ride with you. i think i'll just recline on the couch actually. whew.

nina said...

She should do as I do: basically wash the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. They come out super clean, even with the most eco-friendly detergents.

The easy path is most often not the best path. But nor is it especially interesting.

I think the evening is putting cliches in my head. Sorry. I'll do better next time. Maybe.

Roy said...

The dishwasher in our house seems to be a source of stress. I think it causes us to often do without sufficient dishes because it is often not quite "full enough to run," and so we wind up washing things individually as we need them--I'm sure this is a way less efficient use of hot water than running the dishwasher "early." Any dish used to microwave something will not come clean, usually. Cups that were used for tea will not come clean. Finally, the dry cycle of the dishwasher does not get rid of the small pools of water on the bottom of up-turned coffee cups in the top rack, requiring the use of a couple of paper towels to soak it up--paper towels that came from trees, mind you. I don't even know about the detergent. And, actually, really finally, when supper is over my son and I don't stand side-by-side and wash the dishes, as we probably should.

Roy said...

I forgot what you said about the photo app you use to create these vignetted pics. Is it an iPhone app?

asha said...

Wonderful photos! And like Roy, I am wondering, besides your incredible eye, what you did to capture that delicious moodiness.

And, in answer to your question, Yes. Eventually things do give. Even the universe breathes out.

I think we all infected with that sense of entitlement but the best antidote I've ever heard to "Why me?" is "Why not me?". After that the choice is self-pity or gratitude. So of to the Greenway with us! Run! Ride! Lift! And do random acts of kindness. It's more than a bumper sticker. It actually works. One of my favorites is rescuing a drowning fly from a puddle of water. Really puts things in perspective.

Kristiana said...

The top photo was just a straight shot of dawn on a snowy morning. The black and white pics were taken using and app called Old Camera and the bottom pictures were taken using and app called Toy Camera made by the same company. I love them. Everyone seems to be taken with apps like hipstamatic and instagram which I don't really care for. Hipstamatic especially seems to be cheesy and overwrought. The results all look the same to me, like short-cut art. Not that my photos are any better, they are cell phone snaps after all, but I like them. Shrug.

Roy said...

I just got an iPhone (pause for hushed, awed silence at my sudden, explosive, yet unexplained entry into the 21st Century . . . ) so--I should find these apps at the iTunes store or something? Is that what all the kids are doing nowadays, when they're not walking across my lawn?

Kristiana said...

---Ohhhh Roy-- I feel like we've lost something irretrievable.

You have an icon on your phone that is a blue square with crepuscular rays shining upon a circle of tools forming an A -- that is your App Store.

You have to set up an Apple ID and give them your credit card number to keep on file. Now you are all set to whittle away your life savings $0.99 at a time.

Would you like some app recommendations?

Roy said...

app recommendations?


And thanks for the simplified instructions.


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