There is Life After the Thesis

After chronicling my thoughts, feelings, ideas, and experiences throughout the thesis process on this blog (formerly entitled Rites of a Thesis), it seemed odd to me to simply let the blog go just because I had turned in my thesis and graduated. I don't want to merely "shelve" my thesis nor do I want all that I got from my time at Naropa to lie dormant. I want my thesis to continue to live and breathe and become, and I would like all the teachings and experiences I had during my time at Naropa to do the same. So I am keeping the blog (changing the title), and am commiting to myself to (w)rite on as I journey forward.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Appreciation for the Mundane: Enjoying the Ordinary in an Extraordinary Way

I am extraordinary, if you'd ever get to know me
I am extraordinary, I am just your ordinary
Average every day sane psycho
Average every day sane psycho .

- Liz Phair

This morning as I took some laundry out of the dryer and put another load in, I realized how much I actually enjoy doing laundry.

I like the ordinariness of the task.
I appreciate the time and care of simply folding items - wrapping a pair of socks together, folding a pair of jeans once, then twice, preparing them to be hung on a hanger in my closet when I finish folding the rest of the items.
I have come to relish doing this household chore, as well as many others, simply because it is simple. It is repetitiously simple. And in so doing, I feel sense of accomplishment and a feeling that I am taking care - of my environment, my belongings, and myself.

Don't get me wrong - I have always liked a clean house, clean clothes, and, of course, a clean body. However, I would happily put chores (though not showers) aside to do something more fun or more interesting.

Then. "B.T." (Before Thesis).

Now, "D.T." (During Thesis), I have come to appreciate the simplicity of attending to ordinary chores. They have become a pleasure. Even an outlet. They are measurably do-able. They don't require "thought," but I enjoy being mindful of how I am doing them: the folding of the clothing, the warmth of the water as I am washing the dishes, the back and forth motion of the vacuum.

I remember last year when we were studying the paramitas in the "Compassionate Teaching" teaching class, Richard Brown, instructor. Every time we were focusing on a particular paramita, i.e. patience, I found myself going to the extreme of non-patience (completely irritated and annoyed). When we practiced generosity my mind and heart would turn to gluttonous, miserly thoughts and feelings. It felt awful in the midst of it, but it always brought me back to balance and, seemingly, to the essence of each paramita.

Working on my thesis, I often feel the sense of urgency. I must do, I must do, I must do. My head spins in hundreds of different directions, filled with millions of mega-bytes of information, thoughts, and ideas. Even when I finish one thing, it feels like I have not accomplished what I should have accomplished. I carry a sense of the incomplete, the unfinished.

Now, please don't get me wrong: I truly get that this thesis is a process. And, I actually, really like the process. But there is the neurosis that comes with it. And I need that extreme, in my process, in order to do my thesis.

But like while practicing the paramitas, I need the flip-side of my thesis: the mundane. The ordinary. That has become so extraordinary. The laundry, the dishes, the vacuuming, the dusting. The balance.

What I hope to keep, upon completing my thesis, is the glorious thrill of the simple. The ordinary. And how extraordinary it truly is.

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