Dirty Enlightenment and Pesto

Pesto StuffA few months ago I saw a tiny article in the local paper about dirt. Apparently, studies suggest a little grime might keep you healthy. Sewer rats showed more vigorous immune systems than their clean, lab rat counterparts. I knew there was a good reason I don’t clean my house! (much)

But, seriously… Yes, I always get serious. Must be my Welsh genes. They even have a word for it over there, Hiraeth, an ineffable yearning, a longing for something, a perennial vision of a golden age at once lost and never found. Poetry and music are highly valued and practiced throughout all Welsh culture. Poetry contests are common, and everyone sings in a choir.

Since I plan to submit my blog to 9rules round 5, I thought I’d say a little bit about my goals in life and dirt and pesto.

So, what are my goals in life? That’s easy: to fulfill my greatest potential as a human being, to fill my life with as much goodness, beauty, growth and love as I can. Well that’s a tall order, but then again, hiraeth is in my blood.

Pesto ThingsThe problem is, my potential and my yearnings come in a few thousand colors, sizes and smells. And I flourish on any of them equally. But I’ve found that living in the present potentially connects me to all of them, one at a time.

For example, tonight I threw the last of the wilting Basil leaves from the summer garden into the food processor, along with tons of fresh garlic, olive oil, fresh grated Parmesan cheese and pine nuts. The smell was heavenly, so vivid, pungent, flowery, a slap of anise from the basil. Summer images flooded my mind. The sweet slow rhythms and lower stress, sultry air, lazy afternoons, mint juleps, fresh veggies, long talks with friends in the garden with background music by crickets. Extroverted. Now that Fall has moved in and Winter encroaches, my mood changes. The dreams turn to love and eye contact, hugs and cuddling by the fire, reading, and lots of staring out the window dreaming, planning for the garden in Spring. Inroverted. The smell of that pesto became a poetic link to meaning in that moment, giving depth to the experience.

Why all this rambling babble? Well, the kitchen was a mess after making the Basil pesto, but my life was richer for it. Now for another digression.

One thing I am keenly aware of is that I am finite physically, but I live infinitely in each moment. (think of standing on a mountain top and feeling the sky infinite above and the mountain infinite, sort of, below, yet you are not moving) We can only process one moment at a time. That’s the key. Once we understand that, the rich fragrance of the pesto takes us to who we need to be right then.

The smells, tastes, sights, sounds, the poetry, music, art, the love and sadness and joy of living, these are infinite possibilities in each moment we live. To experience each with infinite depth and height and breadth is the goal. Pure presence. The next moment will never be the same. Never. That pesto smell is gone now. I can eat it tomorrow, (or perhaps after I write this, since it seems to be on my mind) but that will be a new experience, a new infinity.

Yes, I know all too well of my finite existence, (that’s another story) but I want to fill it with everything, many full, rich experiences, as many bowls of pesto as possible. Living with that intention, I choose to prioritize the quality of my experiences toward depth rather than detail. I choose hugs and laughter over TV, gardening and petting the cats over driving far to go shopping, sharing a glass of wine with a friend over cleaning the house.

Pesto PastaAha, so now we get back to the dirt. Life is dirty. Life is messy. There is no utopia, even in Wales. But pesto is close to utopia. Or, the look in my cat’s eyes when he blinks kissingly at me. That’s a little moment of heaven. Or, getting a real, trusting hug from a dear friend. Priceless! What else do we need?

Who cares if people’s minds, attitudes, habits, words, even deeds, are a little dirty. Bring it on. Let’s mess up the kitchen, tell some filthy stories, go play in a mud puddle. Let’s take time to notice the details, even the dirt, and do it with an open heart, with the knowledge that life is sweet, like Basil, and that every little whiff of it is an amazing gift.

So, take what life gives you and make pesto. We’ll clean the kitchen tomorrow.

8 thoughts on “Dirty Enlightenment and Pesto

  1. “….Why all this rambling babble? Well, the kitchen was a mess after making the Basil pesto, but my life was richer for it….”
    Oh, my God how well said!
    Also, ladies and getlemen, David’s pesto does provide such enlightening power to whomever tastes it.
    Also, as a housemate I have to say AMEN to this one:
    “…So, take what life gives you and make pesto. We’ll clean the kitchen tomorrow.”
    Yeah David!!!!! That’s why I dragg cleaning the kitchen after a meditative experience (like eating your pesto!) Now, you should be able to understand, and let me fall asleep by the fire…with a full belly and a smiling face…

  2. Great article! I’ve long believed that a little dirt is good for us, and am especially concerned at how over-zealous parents try to keep everything antiseptic and disinfected around their kids. I don’t think it helps the immune system and eventually of course the bugs will adapt and become superbugs, meaning they WILL be dangerous and WILL be impossible to stop. Yet we see more of the irresponsibly strong cleaning products released all the time!

    I love pesto. It’s great in fajitas with salad and veggie alternatives to meat (or meat if you aren’t a veggie like me). x

  3. Herbal- Oops. I knew that one was going to come back and bite me. As you can see, I’m trying to convince myself to leave behind the compulsion to clean what little I do and become an enlightened slob. Here’s to happy slobs!!!

  4. Andy- What you describe is a national sickness in my opinion, a puritanical remnanat which has become an obsession and has been cultivated and fed by consumerist culture. Meanwhile, the superbugs get stronger.

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