Yeah, I’m going there. Because there is a legitimate Zen-like quality to slowly, meticulously pacing up and down the yard, single-mindedly focused on spotting Rico and Roxy’s “gifts,” and carefully picking them up with my scooper so as to not tear up all of the fragile, still-dormant grass.
I thought about this over the weekend, while performing this mundane, stinky, by-all-accounts-unpleasant-but-necessary chore.
But, really, that’s what enlightenment is. First enlightenment, then the dishes, so the saying goes. Or, in this case, the poop-scooping.
In the first dojo I trained in, it was honorable to be designated one of the clean-up crew. That meant, as everyone else filed out, we received our cleaning cloths and positioned ourselves at opposite corners. We wiped clean the bottom of our own feet, then frog-hopped up and down in rows, pushing the cloth along the floor to pick up any sweat, dust, or dirt.
Symbolically, we were cleaning our minds. Clearing away any thought or judgments about what had happened in the dojo that evening. Breathe, body, mind all working in harmony during this one, quiet task. We purified our minds while cleaning this sacred space.
I felt the comparison to scooping poop from the yard the very first time I did it. Roxy is “Ol’ Reliable.” She goes in one place at a time, always in the same general area. Rico … (sigh). I think he was a parent in a past life who relished hiding Easter eggs from his children. Every square inch must be inspected. His gifts could be anywhere.
The yard is sacred, though. There, the dogs and I bond over playtime or simply sitting on the grass basking in the sun. It’s the one place I can safely let them run and be free. We grow food there. It’s where I try to show daily appreciation for nature by feeding birds, providing water, caring for the plant life that grows there, and just sensing my connection to the earth.
And, thus, it must be cleaned to the best of my ability. So it becomes a meditation, same as cleaning the dojo.
Slowly, deliberately, I walk up and down in neat rows, eyes focused on the earth, all thoughts released. The penalty for letting thoughts creep in is a nugget smashed into the treads of my shoe.
Talk about motivation.