Every morning, I get up from bed, turn on the kettle, brush my teeth, make a cup of tea and sit down – in bed, admittedly – with a notebook and pen. I do a writing meditation while I’m drinking this first cup of tea for the day.
The other day, I spilled tea on a silk bedspread given to me by a friend. I spilled it the first time because in my left hand, I held a cup of tea – a small cup not a mug – and in my right hand I shook the oat milk carton. As the right hand shook the milk, the other shook the teacup and out came the tea.
After doing it once, I did it again! It was as if I completely had forgotten what caused the first spillage. And then somehow, without shaking any containers, I had a third spill. Thankfully, each time it cleaned up easily. No stains – or perhaps very slight stains that thankfully blend in with the colors of the fabric.
Why am I blogging about this? Because in the past, repeat mishaps – particularly spills – would have left me very angry with myself. I would have beat myself up at the time it happened and then perhaps throughout the day. Instead, I laughed at each spill.
At the same time, I was and I am not all that keen to repeat the same mistakes over and over again – especially ones that have more significance than tea on a bedspread. Yet, they do happen. I have and will repeat actions which I’d rather not repeat – until I give them enough awareness and consideration to embody whatever lesson is at hand to be learned.
And one of my most persistent repeats much of my life has been to be very hard on myself. Of course, discipline and boundaries are required and important; firmness is an essential element of love. Directing blame, judgement and belittling thoughts at my self is not.
In the mornings, I now make a point of putting the cup down before I do any milk shaking. A simple correction that prevents more tea spillage. This is discipline. Cleaning up the spills right away was discipline. Laughing at the incident was discipline – in the sense that rather than berating myself, I chose to laugh tenderly and compassionately.
In a world with so much violence, mayhem and mistakes which can be deadly, spilling tea on a bedspread might seem irrelevant. In many ways it is. What’s more, it draws attention to the fact that I have a kind of cushioned life where I can freely choose to spend my first waking minutes drinking tea and writing. Where I take for granted access to clean drinking water and electricity to boil it. Where…well, I could go on, but I won’t.
I am writing about those tea spilling moments that morning because they were a revelation for me.
I spilled tea and I laughed. I cleaned up spilled tea and I laughed. I found joy owning a bedspread which has silk threads that seem to provide a good camouflage for spilled black West Yorkshire tea. I sensed at the time that my relationship to the spilled tea reflected a shift in my relationship to life.
I’ve at last begun to let go of feeling shame and guilt for being a creature who stumbles, falls, trips, mis-steps and lands on my butt or my head or my side and then knocks into something or someone. To be this creature is to periodically give rise to such calamity – in small and large ways. To be this creature is to be human.
To evolve as this creature is to pay attention and to endeavor to take thoughtful action where and when possible in order to avoid repeating the same errors. Of course, with some of the bigger stumbles and falls, there will be tears and anger and frustration – and serious consequences. All the same, I sense right now that to evolve is to keep loving – by being aware, taking different paths of action, by practicing forgiveness, by laughing a lot.