Even the most tedious everyday tasks can hold powerful lessons if we choose to learn from them
By Meryl Gwinn
Recently I was struck with a day of enlightenments. I was in the midst of moving when I learned three significant, albeit unrelated, things, and then wrote them down. They all share the concept of awareness, and so I thought they were short stories worth sharing here. Perhaps some will find them as thought provoking as I did.
After reaching the point where procrastination was no longer an option, I dove wearily into moving day with a low expectation for pleasure. I opened my closet and paused briefly looking at the contents. It was then when, out of nowhere, an overwhelming sense of gratitude hit me.
Gratitude? It could have gone so many ways but as I scanned my wardrobe I suddenly felt intensely lucky to associate each piece of clothing with someone, something or some memory I hold dear.
I was looking at the story of my life and I was thankful for it. It was there, hanging nonchalantly on a wooden pole. There was the dress that had been my mother’s, the sweater I wore nearly every day for four months in Patagonia—later sewn back together by a precious and concerned friend—and an old surf T-shirt I “earned” after surviving my first hurricane swell.
Overcome by this feeling, my day completely shifted and I realized there was no turning back.
I had been trying to make a point of being more grateful for some time and found the topic arising frequently in conversation. It seemed that people around me were talking about gratitude, sharing their tools for more grateful living.
From writing “gratitude lists” and adopting thankful mealtime rituals to sharing appreciation out loud with others, the consensus is that this attitude shifts one away from focusing on the negative, and what we don’t have, to the positive. Happiness is enhanced, as the more you practice being grateful, it seems, the more you have to be grateful for. Try it on.
Somewhere down the line I inherited an acute oversensitivity to waste. Produce, water, electricity…dessert; none of these should be wasted. The sound of a ripping paper towel induces anxiety. Needless to say, I almost lost it that day when confronted with the unforgiving pile that was to be schlepped to the dump.
And then what? This stuff just doesn’t disappear. It brought to mind the image of the floating island of debris in the North Pacific.
My discard pile looked a lot like carelessness and I began to lament the outrageous amount of trash we must each produce—electronic waste, plastic packaging from just about everything, non-reusable containers and just “stuff” in general. Someone is always telling us we need more stuff. Looking at what some families live happily with, and without, in many places around the world can help put things in perspective.
We can also revisit simple practices to do a better job of reducing waste. Besides the obvious practice of buying and using only what we need—such as non-packaged produce, recycling, and really being mindful about electricity—we can ask ourselves a few more questions: How can I re-use this item? Is there someone else, a charity perhaps, who could benefit from it? Do I always over-purchase and then watch things go bad or unused?
The bottom line is garbage just doesn’t disappear after it is hauled away. Being a careful examiner of how we can simplify, ultimately leaves us with more space for peace of mind, and a cleaner environment to settle into.
I was almost asleep when I sustained my first moving-related injury. A beautifully rusted cross with a sharp spike to secure a candle in its base—San Clemente thrift store gem—fell from my wall and pierced the pad of my index finger. I felt concerned as my last tetanus shot was likely administered during a ninth-grade physical.
OK, remove spike, administer tourniquet, squeeze decent amount of potentially exposed blood from extremity and apply hydrogen peroxide.
I Googled “tetanus” and re-educated myself on the potentially serious nature of the toxin and it’s often delayed symptoms.
As I was questioning whether to get re-vaccinated, I focused more on my next preventative first-aid moves. Some takeaways from my research were as follows: First, using peroxide on the injury was a good move and is an essential product for every household pharmacy. The kick is, in order to be effective, it must be replaced annually. And second, a number of homeopathic remedies have been useful in avoiding tetanus and include infection reducing agents such as natural vitamin C, colloidal silver, garlic, cod-liver oil, olive leaf and grapefruit extracts, witch hazel, white vinegar and milk thistle, to name a few.
Whatever route you feel most comfortable taking when confronting any risk of infection, it feels good to know you may already have many antidotes on hand.
These “aha moments” pulled from an ordinary day, ultimately resulted in reminding me that wisdom can exist in the most mundane of circumstances. So, let us be thoughtful, responsible and grateful human beings, looking for learning in even the most tedious of tasks.
Meryl Gwinn has a Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology, has studied yoga, health, food, and humans around the globe. She is a constant pursuer of natural medicine and whole-healing solutions. She believes in the power of choice, simplicity and plants as preventative medicine and is committed to inspiring this change in self and in system. Gwinn welcomes reader feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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