Yesterday I didn’t say enough positive things about gardening. I definitely didn’t mean to give the impression that it’s not a worthy pursuit. In fact, after writing yesterday’s post, I went home and toiled in the yard all morning.
Though sweat soaked clear through my clothes, and sweat and sunscreen dripped into my eyes, I entered into a sort of zen state ripping weeds and snipping branches from wild bushes. The buzz from strenuous manual labor lasted most of the day. I wholeheartedly support any activity that involves moving in the outdoors.
What I CAN’T handle is a situation like this in a “fictional” marriage:
Spouse A, on her own volition, slides on garden gloves and enters the yard, which does need work. As she’s out there, sweating, a thought slips into her mind like “I know Spouse B knows I’m out here working. I bet he’s in there reading, sipping iced tea on the couch.” And Spouse B may well be reading on the couch, sipping iced tea and, yes, he knows Spouse A is outside in the hot sun working in the yard.
After an hour, Spouse A enters the house, walks up to the lounging, relaxed Spouse B and looks at him with this odd, menacing look. “Do you realize I’ve been working in the yard for the past hour?”
“Oh yeah? Cool,” Spouse B lies. (This is not necessarily what I’d do.)
“Are you going to just read all day or what?”
“I don’t know. Why?” Spouse B looks up, flips the page.
“The yard looks like shit.” Spouse A grumbles.
“Yeah, it does,” Spouse B says calmly then sips his drink.
Spouse A grits her teeth and growls until steam puffs from her ears.
Where does this expectation come from? Spouse A’s decision to work in the yard has nothing to do with what Spouse B is doing. Is gardening somehow “better” or more important than reading? No. At that moment, gardening is obviously a top priority for Spouse A and NOT a top priority for Spouse B. And that’s okay.
No resentment. No bitterness. No expectations. Live and let live.
Sure, it’s different if Spouse A comes in and says “When you get to a place where you can stop, can you help me dig that giant weed out of the fountain grass?” That’s an entirely different situation.
* * *
I guess I shouldn’t expect many to agree with me about the couch in yesterday’s post. People in the U.S. place so much importance on their possessions. We live in a materialistic society. I’m definitely in the minority in thinking that most of that time and energy would be better spent on cultivating our inner lives. What I mean by that is learning to recognize our unhealthy obsessions, faulty thinking, and unhelpful attachments to all kinds of things.
I guess I’ve read enough about Buddhism now that I’m completely out of touch with most people. I posted that clip of American Beauty because I relate so strongly to Lester in rebelling against the ultra-materialistic Carolyn. (Ignore, for a moment, his attraction to his daughter’s friend. I don’t relate to that.)
If you didn’t click on the link above, I want to insert this quote from the Dalai Lama:
“Most of our troubles are due to our passionate desire for and attachment to things that we misapprehend as enduring entities.”
Look around at the expensive crap in our houses that we fuss over, stress over, protect, clean, show off, talk about, rub, lick, sit on, fluff, swipe, kiss–it’s all turning to dust, as are we. Whoa, that’s dark, sorry. Maybe a better way to end is to suggest we simply lighten up the speed at which we acquire and lighten up on our zealous protection of the stuff we already have, and, instead, pretend we have six months to live and imagine what we’d do with that time; would we race to rearrange our things to finally achieve the “right” look (I can’t die on THIS couch!) or would we do everything in our power to spend time with those we love, and to do the things that we’re passionate about?
But I know I don’t have all the answers and I’m half batty anyways. And I really don’t care much about how other people live. Philosophers have been arguing about the “best” way to live for centuries. It’s just interesting to me. And, guess what, I buy and keep stuff too! I’m partly writing instructions and suggestions to myself up there. If anything, this is all a good writing exercise.