washing the dishes

There’s a gatha that goes…wait. You probably want to know what a gatha is. It’s a Buddhist thing, a verse recited mentally in rhythm with breathing. It’s a part of mindfulness. A big chunk of mindfulness is devoted to the idea that when you do a thing, you do that thing. You pay attention to it as you do it. You avoid distractions that detract from doing that thing properly.

Okay, back to what I was saying. There’s a gatha that goes like this: Washing the dishes is like bathing the Buddha.

Now, I’ll admit right up front, washing dishes isn’t anything like bathing the Buddha. But it’s a reminder to give the dishes your attention, to take your time, to wash them carefully and thoroughly. Because you’re not just washing dishes, you’re ensuring that whoever eats off that dish later will be eating off a clean dish. It’s an act of caring as much as cleaning.

Another thing. Washing the dishes like you’d bathe the Buddha means you see it as you do it. For a photographer, that also means you’re seeing shapes and colors and movement and momentary shifts in form. And when you see that, you appreciate its beauty.

And then you take a photo of it. (Which, yes, is a distraction–the thing you’re trying to avoid. But hey, even the Buddha admitted this fact: ain’t nobody perfect.)

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