Lessons Learned From a Bucket

A bucket taught me a lot this past Saturday. I had imagined myself as someone who cares for the things in his life, especially when he vowed to buy nothing new this year. (He has also vowed to write everyday for 365 days in a row…we’ll see how that goes!) I imagined myself cultivating a great willingness to get down on my hands and knees and scrub the floors using a bucket, some soap and water.

Of course how I imagined myself and how I acted in real time differ. A lot. On most days. On most days I still clutter up flat surfaces like our dining room table and my office tables and my desks, both at work and at home. But I also know I need to start where I am at and treat myself with kindness.

color photo of a green bucketSo I woke up on Saturday to another day of grey and snow. In a sequence of thoughts I cannot now recall, I asked Ms. H. to bring up a bucket from the utility room. My first thought? How dirty I had left it. “Wow, it’s really dirty,” I said. “Yep, that’s from all the plumbing water,” said Ms. H. We had last used the bucket when our main shut off valve sprang a leak. One of us dumped the water out, but neither of us had bothered to clean the bucket.

I stared down inside the bucket. In an instant I understood the need to clean my tools, to care for them, even something as simple and cheap as a bucket. Then I thought about the many uses of this simple object: I can carry things inside it including water and dirt and other objects, I can grow plants in it, I can catch rainwater in it. In the end a simple bucket proves quite useful. As I pondered this uses of a bucket, I became filled with gratitude. Gratitude that inside and outside of a bucket work so well together, that I had the luxury of cleaning the floors of a house we own outright, that the heat warmed the house on a very cold winter day.

I filled the bucket with warm water and dish detergent. Later I added a few drops of essence of orange. The citrus smell brightened the room right away! Soon after starting, I grabbed the black pillow for my aging knees (God, I cannot believe I just said that! ) The kitchen floor needed work, so I vowed to return to it next Saturday morning. The bucket brought me into my present moment. The bucket, for just a few moments, brought me to enlightenment.