Wednesday, July 12, 2006


One of the delightful Zen phrases goes like this: "Before Enlightenment chop wood carry water, after Enlightenment, chop wood carry water." It gets to the root of all the endless abstraction, eliminating the mental dross we accumulate in our efforts to grasp the Absolute. After all, usually if the Zen disciple asked irrelevant questions to the master, more often than not he gets thwacked with a rod.

The modern equivalent would be Wash Dishes Vacuum Floor of course, and that is one of the things that comes to mind. General regular spring cleaning is wonderful at clearing the mind. Find a stain, eliminate it. Find a task, do it to completion to the best of your ability.

After doing this for most of Tuesday, I walked up the road and was quite disgusted by the rubbish. I'm reminded by a promise made to myself to go for a regular rubbish picking up stroll - it just needs to be regimented into my schedule - then it would be done. It is interesting to contemplate the origin of all the rubbish. A proportion of it is recyclable rubbish that had been correctly placed in the recycle bin only to fall out when the collecting men did their running grab. The hours after collection are often when the street looks worst. Rubbish, once loose, is no one's responsibility. Similarly bad weather on a rubbish day can have a similar effect. Empty plastic bottles are naturally wont to be blown from the bins, let alone paper from overfilled bins. Other bits are people's general laziness. In the playground, littering was often a sign of coolness, as it was in opposition to the goody-two-shoes labouring to the bin to discard. But when older, you wonder what is the general perception of litterers.

There are homes with fences peppered by little scraps of rubbish - on Dominion Road some items of rubbish are many years old. When you see faded labels and the like, it would be interesting to know whether the residents of the homes nearby actually notice them, or whether it is just there to see.

A few days ago, I noticed a sopping wet thin strip of carpet left in front of a neighbouring house when on a march for a Sally Lunn bun. Last night, it had moved three metres down the road to be in front of our set of units. Perhaps the neighbour, knowing it was not his, had moved it onto us.

Rubbish is a wonderful study of society.

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