Saturday, March 9, 2013

kitchen sink, light

So much happens in the kitchen. And while maybe the kitchen table is more often the subject of poems, and the place where poems are written, and long talks into the night take place, the kitchen sink has its charms, too.

I remember a long time ago, when I was reading a lot about Buddhism, I found the book Cave in the Snow, by Vicki Mackenzie, about Tenzin Palmo. She secluded herself in a cave in the Himalayas for 12 years. At one point in the book, 'The Kitchen Sink Path' is discussed. So, when you are just an ordinary human being, trying to develop a practice, you can get quite far by fitting it into the rest of your life. But of course, it's going to have its frustrations. Tenzin Palmo is quoted - she compares going into a cave to food going into a pressure cooker:  "You have to put all the ingredients into a pot and stew it up. And you have to have a constant heat. If you keep turning the heat on and off it is never going to be done. The retreat is like living in a pressure-cooker. Everything gets cooked much quicker."

I think writing is a lot like this. Most of us are on some sort of kitchen sink path in whatever creative endeavours we happen to be involved in - writing, painting, photography. We're fitting it in whenever we can, however we can. In the book about Tenzin Palmo, a woman is interviewed who is a practitioner of Buddhism, and also a mother. She says she gets out of bed at 5am but is in bed by 7:30. So she has given up on going out in the evenings. She has given many things up to maintain her practice. It's like this too, with writing. She also talks about practicing while waiting - at the grocery store, in line-ups at the bank, or airport. While doing everyday tasks. Washing dishes maybe, cutting vegetables for dinner.

Instead of yearning for a year or two to just write, and I admit that I'm prone to such yearnings, I try to focus on fitting as much into the time I do have, and to being attentive to the light that enters, wherever that may be.

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