Have you ever asked yourself if it was possible to live human life gracefully? I remember discussing this idea with a friend way back in the early 1970’s. At the time, we both lived on Park Place in Venice, CA. It wasn’t the Park Place of Monopoly; it was the opposite. We were all working hard to make ends meet, each in our own way.
The best part of living there was the neighborhood community. My friend shared her washer and dryer located in a shed in their back yard. Joanne and I had little children, and we often discussed life while watching the kids run up and down the court while my clothes were in the wash.
Together we lamented that our lives were mostly about maintenance. Clean the house, wash the dishes, round up the kids, make another meal, weed the garden, do the laundry and then start again.
And then there were things we did to earn money.
As a stay-at-home mom, I taught dance classes in my tiny living room and craft classes at night. When all else failed, I sold our furniture to pay the bills. With an abusive, philandering, (what a word) musician husband who often spent the little money he made on drugs and alcohol, life was mostly maintenance and struggle.
And yet it wasn’t.
In the middle of that mess, I had discovered a new way of seeing the world. I had begun a serious journey into spirituality and learning about God as a Principle, as Love, as intelligent Mind. Even as a child I searched for the meaning of life, but in my early twenties, in those struggle-filled days, I found a path to follow that made complete sense to me.
I’ve been walking that path ever since. Not always very successfully, but always doing the best that I could at the time. Although the dark days of struggle are over, life is still about taking care of life.
There still dishes, and cooking, and cleaning, and trying to stay fit. Instead of teaching dance and crafts I coach, guide, and write books. There are children and grandchildren. My mother with whom I discover all my horrible personality ticks provides me with the opportunity to learn how to be better than my irritability.
Nothing we do, short of denying everything and everyone, shedding our clothes, and finding a cave to hide in will ever relieve us from the fact that most of life is about maintenance. Even in a cave, we would have to find food, prepare it, stay warm, and be safe.
I’ll take the maintenance of my modern life, thank you very much.
But the question remains. Can we live daily human life gracefully? I know we can try. The best answer I have found for me is not to fight it, but use it.
Someday we will live elsewhere, in the hereafter, and perhaps that is where maintenance fades away. But, here—in the here and now—maintenance gives us a consistent chance to view things differently.
I can look at the dishes as a burden, or a chance to be grateful that I have them. The garden as something that takes me away from writing, or what inspires me to see the beauty in the world.
The neighbors next door or across the world, as mean and demanding, or find the essence of them that contains the truth of who they and we are—the expression of Love.
I don’t think it’s easy. But I also don’t see another way.
It’s all in the way we perceive what we do and what we see. I can’t make the maintenance go away, so the only answer is to do it as gracefully as possible.
It’s the same answer my friend and I came to way back then. After all this practice, I hope I am better at it, at least more often than not.
Can we live daily human life gracefully?
I believe we can, by seeing life as consistently as possible through the lens of love, for ourselves, our families, our neighbors, and yes, the maintenance of life.