I have been thinking about our puppy class all week, and it occurs to me that I could use a similar class for myself. Just think about it: a snap of the fingers, the command to "leave it," and I'd walk right past that peanut butter cookie or fudge brownie! And it could only be useful to have someone remind me from time to time to "focus." Or to command me to "sit" once in a while!
It's easy to get distracted. It's easy to lose focus on the important things and get caught up in the busy and urgent and noisy things. And we don't take the time to sit enough, to just relax and be, without bouncing up every few minutes to do something else. Most of what we scramble to do really isn't that important or even urgent. But it takes a moment of sitting and thinking to figure that out.
I recently read Michael Moss's book Salt, Sugar, Fat wherein he says many people tend not to cook, but rely on pre-packaged and prepared foods for almost every meal. That is a horrifying thought to me. He says it's because we're so busy that we look for convenience and time-savers and so have lost the cooking-from-scratch that our great-grandmothers took for granted. We just don't have time to do it anymore. Surely Great-Grandma, who had to wash clothes by hand, knit her own socks, dip her own candles, milk her own cow, and churn her own butter, would laugh if we asserted we're busier than she. What is it that's keeping us so busy, anyway?
Part of it is women working outside the home more, obviously. Part of it is the 90-minute commute to work. Some of that is unavoidable nowadays if you want to put any food on the table at all. But really, what else is convincing us it's more important to do than to spend time feeding ourselves nutritious food? TV? Clubs? Junior's piano lessons? Soccer practice? Shopping?
I look at my own life. I work an hour and a half from home every day, leaving at 5:30 a.m. and getting home at 5:15 p.m. (if I'm lucky enough to catch the right bus). I belong to a band that keeps me busy 1-2 nights a week. Junior does have piano lessons and Young Men's group he must be driven to. I write books. I read 2-3 books a week. I walk dogs. I teach workshops, do book signings, and I attend church each week for three hours or more. I garden like a madwoman and put up much of the food we eat all year. I do knit socks. I clean house once in a while... and I watch probably more TV than is good for me (but who can resist Inspector Murdoch, I ask you).
But I also have time to make ricotta cheese, to make pasta and peach pie from scratch, to hang garlic to dry in my laundry room, to make my own grape juice. And if I ever felt something was coming between me and my homebaked bread, believe me, that thing would be outta here. Because really, what's more important to us than health? We can't do a single other thing very well without it. And where is the joy in life without hot homemade bread? No sir, homemade food is the last thing to go in my schedule.
I just re-read this blog, and I seem to have ended up somewhere I hadn't intended to go. I started off talking about puppy class, and the need to focus...isn't that ironic? But I guess it all ties together after all. If my focus becomes too distracted by trivial things, I have to find a way to bring the right things back into priority. I need to sit for a while.
Which is why when my husband "zones out" to do zazen once in a while, I don't see it as "doing nothing" or "staring at a blank wall." He is doing something. He's sitting.
(Proof that I do sit once in a while!)