Saturday, December 3, 2011

Humilty in Action

Over the past week I have been incrementally cleaning up mine and Nimo's apartment while he busily works on the Ekatva tour. I started with the bathrooms, then the kitchen, sinks, desks and other furniture, and of course tending to our plants. I have found it a good discipline and nice complement to morning meditation.

One of the big benefits of manual housework is that it really instills humility. It is humility in action. It is dirty, hard work bending over that greasy toilet, scrubbing hard-to-reach corners. But you do it and it grounds you. It keeps you flexible to a range of duties. No work gets beneath you, and that is an aid in cultivating a heart of service. And as Jayeshbhai recently confessed to me during a marathon floor/bathroom/dishes cleaning session, "Above all, I love to clean toilets."

At home, no one is watching you clean that toilet. Except yourself. So you do it to the best of your ability. This helps in developing a strong worth ethic, a dignity of work. Like young Steve Jobs who learned from his furniture-making father that even the parts of the piece that no one sees should be perfect and beautiful.

Manual work is beneficial to body and mind. It's physically challenging and strengthens the body. Also I've found that there is something very satisfying about wiping down a dusty shelf or sink. And that's what I love about India, everything in your house gets dusty! It's my latest argument as a long-standing India apologist.

Doing housework increases your appreciation of Moms. They do it in the normal course of their daily lives. Without recognition or praise or even a thought that what they are doing is something so great. They would think it bizarre and naive and arrogant to write a blog post reflecting and promoting it. Doing housework also makes me experientially understand what my mom means when she says, "I don't want a big house… it is too much work!"

Although I tend to like doing housework, I don't do it regularly enough out of laziness and resistance to getting my hands dirty. Getting started is the hardest part, but once you jump into it it's not so bad. And in the end I never regret having done it. It's satisfying, and you end up with a clean place to live! I plan to keep connected to some regular hard manual housework. Hand washing my underwear will be the task of choice for now.

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