Sunday, January 31, 2016

washing the rice

Edward Espe Brown, perhaps best known as the author of the Tassajara Bread Book, once asked his Zen teacher for advice on how to approach his new role as head cook. Roshi said something like:

"When you're washing the rice, wash the rice; when you're cutting the carrots, cut the carrots; when you're stirring the soup, stir the soup."

I heard Brown relate this story in a film some years ago, and I've drawn upon it countless times since. In recent weeks, I've brought it to mind daily. Many times daily. Usually aloud.

"When I'm carrying the water bucket...when I'm shifting this hay bale...when I'm folding this laundry...when I'm filling the woodbox..."

There hasn't been much actual washing of rice. There has been stirring of soup. And there has been a lot of frozen food and toast and - Decadence Alert! - grapefruit purchased already segmented.

"When I'm walking with Piper..."

"When I'm sawing this board...

"When I'm breathing through this pain and trying to sleep..."

I have accomplished very little that wasn't strictly necessary in January, but the stuff that was truly necessary has been done. And that's got to be enough.
It is enough.

I want to say a heartfelt "thank you" to everyone who left a comment on my most recent post, or who sent me an email, or a message on ravelry. Every word meant a lot to me. My silence since has not meant a lack of appreciation. I hope you know that. I believe you know that. Thank you.

Today's post feels somewhat scattered, but I'm going to go ahead and put it up. My recent communication attempts have been rusty and clunky, and challenged by even the 140-character limit of twitter. This post is probably the closest I've come to coherence in a while.

Wait...can coherence be scattered?

See what I mean?