Jack Kornfield assumed in his book, After the Ecstasy, The Laundry, that ecstasy came first. But what if it never comes? What if there's only the laundry, nothing more.
For me, ecstasy these days comes with the dawn that I greet on this balcony nine floors up on the west side of the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok. Even without the stupendous sunrise shows, the view is awesome. In my five years of looking, it never ceases to please me.
You'll notice the ancient washing machine and the laundry drying on the rack. Maybe the rich have automatic dryers, but everyone else in this city hangs their wet clothes out to dry in the sultry air. It's so hot that they'll dry despite the frequent squalls during this monsoon season.
Washing the clothes had been my wife's job. But now that she's working six days a week, I've had to learn how to handle the temperamental machine. It's been repaired twice and is on its last legs. The only road block is my distracted mind which tends to forget simple instructions. There's no hot water in our apartment other than the on demand heater in the shower so water temperature is no problem. Remembering where to turn the dial is. But I think I've mastered it now.
I used to think another kind of ecstasy besides the morning show was possible. I read books, sat on the cushion, attended retreats and lectures. I could almost construct a moment of bliss from the various instructions. Visions of leading seminars and writing self help books danced in my head. For what is one to do once one has experienced such thusness?
But awakening has not come and now that I've exceeded my sell by date I doubt that I'll have that experience before shuffling off this mortal coil. I'll leave it to others with the time, expertise and, dare I say it, the luck, to report back on their moments of ecstasy.
For me, then, there's only the laundry, and the myriad of other duties that are difficult only if you fail to give them your undivided and undistracted attention. Yes, the shit work that must be done by those with no time or talent for enlightenment. I suspect that's most of us.