Le toilet

I clean my own toilets. I used to have a cleaning person come every couple of weeks, but with the current economy, that stopped a few years ago. So, I have to clean them, or they won’t get cleaned.

Have you ever been to someone’s house and had to use their toilet, and were shocked. I can remember college days, when in a rented house nobody cleaned the toilet. Months, and then years of calcium built up in the bowl. You could almost tell the history of the place like counting tree rings. A thick ring=summer vacation, lots of evaporation with no flushing. Smaller rings interspersed. God forbid you lift the seat and see what had splashed up there over the past year.

I actually enjoy cleaning my toilet. For 5 minutes every 2-3 weeks I take a pumice stone and scrape away the newly forming ring. The chemicals are applied dissolving away the rest. The seat is made spotless, both sides. The dust on the underside of the base is wiped away, the chrome handle is polished. Cleaning the toilet is sort of meditation, it is a simple chore that is repeated, like a mantra. It can be a time of quiet focus, mindless work.

Cleaning of the toilets has usually been looked at as punishment. You know, latrine duty in the movies. We usually delegate the job to someone else. It’s a lowly job, disgusting, dirty. At our place of work it is usually the cleaning crew. Often they come in late at night, when no one is there. Working through the night they clean up our messes so when we show up the next day everything is once again spic-and-span clean for us. For most of these workers it is a thankless job. Sometimes I do see them where I work, and I thank them. Thank you for emptying my trash, and for cleaning the toilet I get to use, but I don’t have to clean. The next time you see someone cleaning a bathroom in a public place-at work, a restaurant, even the airport-humble yourself a bit and thank them.

The Zen saying goes: Before Enlightenment chop wood, carry water. After Enlightenment chop wood, carry water. The tasks of life must be done, no matter how difficult, boring, or unfavorable they may be to us. We can not change what must occur, or what must be done, whether it seems good or bad to us, whether it is good fortune, or a natural disaster. But, we can change one thing-our attitude. What do think? Can you shift away from immediate reaction to events in your life, to observation and then calmer decision-making and response? Can you change your attitude?