Sunday, May 16, 2010
Hand Wash Cold by Karen Maezen Miller
Every now and then a book will find its way into your hands that feels like an intimate conversation with an old friend. For me, Hand Wash Cold: Care Instructions for an Ordinary Life is one of those books.
Not really all that instructional per se, this book is unassuming and comforting and lets you know you are not alone in your endeavors with spirituality, relationships, motherhood, and mundane tasks like laundry which Miller uses both literally (we need to get our hands dirty) and metaphorically. Real, meaningful life is deeply embedded in the mundane tasks and Miller is validating and celebrating those moments which go unnoticed, begrudged, and/or delegated to others because we think we have more important work to do.
As a child I was painfully aware of the passage of time and since becoming a mother I ache with this awareness. Still it's quite an effort to stay in the moment and really experience the present (cliche as it is). Precious moments with the most important person in my life, my son, pass by at light speed. Miller totally gets it, has struggled with it herself and offers compassion and insight. Embrace your life as it is, right now, she encourages. Be present in your own life.
She shares her own flaws and vulnerabilities and made me cry, more than once. She is a Zen Buddhist priest but that doesn't come through so much in this book, and I think that's the point. She is not cold and detached, but warm and accessible. Never did I feel in reading this that someone more enlightened than me was telling me how it is, there's nothing lofty, just something Raw and Real. I can't wait to read Miller's former book, Momma Zen: Walking the Crooked Path of Motherhood.