Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Joy of a Clean Floor

I am very fond of walking around barefoot. At work, at friends houses, in the car, I have been known to unconsciously remove my shoes.  Something in me hates the restriction that shoes...even flip-flops imply.  I want my feet on the ground.  Hence, I am very fond of clean floors.

The reason I wear shoes at all, is not simply because it is a convention established by society, although without a doubt, that plays a serious part.  But, I don't want my feet to get dirty. When I walk outside, as much as I enjoy the feel of grass on my feet, I know there is a serious consequence to being barefoot outside... that is, when I walk inside, I'll get my floors dirty, because I can't take my dirty feet off at the door. 

Yes, I have been known to wash my dirty feet off after running quickly through to house to get to the bathtub.  But most of the time I don't because I love to have clean floors and no matter how fast I run, I'll get crud on the floor.

To appreciate the Joy of Clean Floors, one must know and fully appreciate - THE DIRTY FLOOR.

People who spend their lives in shoes and slippers will never understand this.  

Now the home I currently reside in is 95% hard flooring.  I have very little carpeting.  Carpeting is popular for many reasons, but the one thing I've come to appreciate about carpeting is the way it hides the dirt.  Dirt, sand, and other stuff, wriggles its way down through the carpet fibers and away from the surface until such time as I can vacuum.  In a house with wall to wall carpeting it takes a while before an individual walking barefoot would notice that the surface they are walking on is dirty.  But with hard flooring... the dirt just sits there.

To make matters worse, my house with 95% hard flooring, is also inhabited by two cats and two dogs.  One dog is incontinent and leaves frequent stains of various varieties of excrement. One cat is prone to seizures (and if you've never experienced that, consider yourself very fortunate) and as a consequence leaves puddles of urine, saliva and blood in wild unrestrained unexpected patterns all over the floor.  Needless to say, I'm grateful I'm not trying to clean this out of the carpet.  But in the best circumstances a hard floor will get dirty in a day.  Mine, gets filthy in mere hours.  When I walk across the floor in bare feet, I know what I'm stepping on.

This is how I've come to appreciate the joy of a clean floor. I know dirty.

The point may seem trivial or even pointless.  But think about it from a Taoist perspective and you'll understand where I'm headed with this.

If you've never experienced a truly dirty floor in bare feet, then the joy of the clean floor is just something that is done to keep visitors from making unpleasant remarks, or something that is done out of a dedication to the conventions of housework. To truly appreciate a clean floor, just as to truly appreciate anything in life,  you must know and fully experience its opposite.  There is no joy without suffering, no life without death, and no satisfied smile on the face of the person walking across a scrubbed and disinfected floor who is wearing shoes!!

Dive into the experience of life with your shoes off!

Monday, July 7, 2008

"to stir up a race of rebels who shall refuse to be confined to limited Dimensionality..."

That is the hope of the unfortunate hero of Flatland's brighter moments. 

Flatland, by Edwin Abbot is the tale of a two dimensional square who, despite his best efforts, cannot convince his two dimensional society about the existence of "upward not northward" and is imprisoned for his assertions of the third dimension's existence.

His adventures into this third dimension with his able guide the sphere (not Carl Sagan's apple!!) provided him the knowledge and understanding of just how limited Flatland was, but there was no convincing any other Flatlander of such a thing.

Edwin Abbot, in this story, exposes the danger of limiting ourselves to attempting to understand only those things for which empirical evidence is easy to acquire. The poor square was unable to convince any of his fellow two dimensional creatures to even attempt to imagine what he was describing, or to consider the possibility that, despite their inability to see for themselves, that what he said was true!

But its easy for us to see that the square was right, after all, because we live in the third dimension.  So to thumb our noses at their prejudice for two dimensions is hypocritical, because human beings as a society do the same thing all the time.  Its difficult not to!  We have a bias and affinity for those things which are evident to us, and a suspicion and skepticism about those things that are not.

Suspicion and skepticism are good things, they keep us from believing all manner of ridiculous things that just aren't so, but just as imagination must be tempered with skepticism, so skepticism must be tempered with imagination.  One cannot work without the other.  Alone, each of those attributes will lead you away from the truth rather than toward it.  They will lead you to be confined to "limited dimensionality".  And that, is what I  hope to help you avoid.