Monday, September 6, 2010

Brush your damn teeth

Las Vegas airport (1)

I tried a few new things this summer. New-old things. The first was meditating; as I said, I'm keeping this up into the school year, as far as I can.

The second was to take my diary more seriously. I chose this goal rather than the grander one of writing, say, a page a day; basically I wanted (and want) to have a diary that says more than "Long day I'm tired" and that actually describes or discusses at least one small thing every day (or so).

I've kept a diary regularly since I was fourteen, so--wow, about exactly twenty years now. In my youth, I wrote nearly every day, and often at length; once I started having relationships in which I didn't sleep alone in my bed every night, that regularity weakened. I still wrote often, but not daily, and occasionally a week would pass (and still passes) in which I wrote/write nothing. I don't usually reread my diaries, although I do consult them now and again, so detail and a thrilling narrative aren't exactly important. But I decided early this summer that "taking my diary seriously" meant giving serious space--if not daily, at least often--to reflection and absorption. So that's a thing that I'm doing.

A week or so ago, I came up with a new one: When I brush my teeth, I am to brush my teeth. That's it.

That sounds silly, I know. The thing is, I started noticing how the instant I had the toothbrush in my mouth I would start rushing around and doing something--turning on (or off) my computer, checking my email, straightening up the cushions on the couch, whatever. This was not only weird, but it was hard on my toothbrush: if I got absorbed in an email, say, I would find myself absently gnawing on the bristles whilst contemplating a response. And then the toothpaste might start to...manifest itself--it was gross, and weird, and honestly, I am not losing productivity by taking a freaking minute to brush my damn teeth. Besides, can I not relax and just do a thing now and again? Why must I let myself be so constantly distracted?

So that's the latest resolution. When I brush my teeth, I stare at myself in the mirror and brush my teeth. If a cat is in the room, I am allowed to pet the cat (and even to sit on the edge of the tub and place her on my knee, if I like)--but that's it.

Just brush your damn teeth. The world moves fast enough on its own.


clio's disciple said...

If I attempted to do other things while brushing my teeth, I would have flecks of toothpaste everywhere. (I use an electric toothbrush.)

Notorious Ph.D. said...

Heh. This is the best iteration of "be present" that I've seen anywhere.

Dr. Koshary said...

Sounds very Zen!

Also, I am amused at your habit of photographing bad carpets. The closest I've seen to that is a friend of mine who has an affectation for photographing people's butts, preferably in awkward poses. Yours, thankfully, is the more internet-friendly practice.