Saturday, March 23, 2013

Domesticity



Domesticity has a daily-ness to it that we escape rarely. It takes going on a holiday to break it, and even then we can worry whether or not the plants will be watered, let alone if the iron was turned off. Being responsibly domestic takes consistency, regularity, and repetitiveness. How else does one not miss garbage day, ensure that there’s fresh milk, and get the bills paid? And as the tasks mount, so our lives become defined. We subsume ourselves to the diurnal quotidian. A break in the momentum can become disconcerting. The lawn-mower man who arrives a day early. The unexpected knock at the door. The phone call just as one is making dinner. The wind that blows the washing off the line. We have our emotions wrapped up in regularity. We become our lives rather than making our lives, for we are the instruments by which our lives run. And our happiness is often measured by how smoothly things are going. Emotion becomes reactionary. Burnt toast is not easily laughed at.

Materialisms make our lives. Advertisements would surely show us that. We are excited by the new, the replaced, the fixed. And then we settle to our stuff owning us as we go about storing, dusting, arranging, showing off, and using the items. A lost watch is a nuisance. A dead battery in the cell-phone can be dastardly. Our interdependence on things becomes a yoke. We move by virtue of our connectivity to our stuff; our address; our vehicle; our ownerships. And if it is so, and if so it is; what of it? (Damn it!)

The importance of things affixed to emotions creates our sense of who we are. The attachment may be practical (my watch, phone, car, computer), or it may be sentimental (my granny’s stitchery, my wife’s love-note), but attachment can be misguided. It is not who we really “are.” When the house opposite ours went up in flames, literally, about five or so years ago, the owners (away at the time) returned to not so much as a recognizable piece of cutlery. Grandmother’s silverware, gone! In such a state of naked confrontation of facts, no documents, no records, no photos, no treasures, no identity (other than that which was in their wallets) how may the soul be left to claim itself? We think we are our name, and then we think we are our history, and then we think we are our dreams. And yes, we are indeed all these things. But when confronted with the devastation and loss of everything familiar to us we are given opportunity to see that we are not just those things; we really are our energy. And where we direct our energy becomes the product of who we are. To rebuild on the same place (as they did) or to start somewhere else. To adopt a new town, a new paradigm, a new venture, and a new set of freedoms, or to re-establish the old and perpetuate old habits? What matter either way so long as one not be a slave to dependence on externals for happiness. In the nakedness of facing all of one’s life in ashes as a result of the conflagration of all those things by which one was identified may there be a sense of release from attachment, or an imperative immediately to go gathering again the stuff by which one may be known?

At relevance in this missive is the emotional attachment to either path. To love is to allow to be, to exercise preference where one can, and to protect, nurture, care for, and assist, but ultimately not to feel dependent. The Four Noble Truths of the Buddha are just that, a release of dependency. Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional. But then again, which of us can possibly be perfect?  At what price perfect understanding; perfect aspiration; perfect speech; perfect conduct; perfect means of livelihood; perfect endeavour; perfect mindfulness; and perfect contemplation?

Now, let me look again at the stars! And then go iron out the wrinkles. Ha! 

No comments:

Post a Comment