When I am doing housework, I usually wear my glasses, not my contacts. This is a self-defense measure: I’m a lot less likely to end up with stirred-up dust or other particles irritating my eyes if I’m wearing eyeglasses.
However, due to those very eyeglasses, for a number of years I found myself regularly fussing—essentially, throwing a mini-tantrum—each time I opened the dishwasher. This despite the fact that I rarely run the dishwasher more than once weekly, since, living alone, it takes me days to fill it. But it’s also my habit to open the dishwasher the very minute it stops running, in order to check that none of the dishes (especially the small bowls I used for serving canned cat food to my pets, or the concave bottoms of some of my cups) have been positioned so that they are holding water. I know from sad experience that the drying cycle won’t remove water from a pet food bowl that’s flipped upright during the washing.
Unfortunately, opening the dishwasher at this point sends clouds of steam rising. And that, inevitably, means that my eyeglasses completely fog up, making vision impossible. I couldn’t see a water-filled bowl unless it jumped up and slapped me in the face.
And so, for perhaps three years, I struggled to remember to pull my glasses off my face before I opened that dishwasher door. Struggled, and inevitably forgot, resulting in stream of (Bad Word Deleted) language, followed by roughly yanking the glasses from my eyes and scrabbling for a tissue to wipe them.
As I say, this unfortunate behavior continued for almost three years, before one day it occurred to me that, after encountering the rising steam and being thoroughly wiped, my eyeglasses were much cleaner–the lenses, of course, but I also wiped the hot steam from the frames and earpieces, cleansing them, as well. And with this realization was coupled the sudden understanding that my repeated irritation was totally unnecessary. In fact, it was contrary to good sense.
The following week when I opened the steaming dishwasher, I was prepared. I took off my eyeglasses and carefully held them into the rising steam, making sure that it coated and heated every part of the frame and lenses. Then I carefully and slowly polished them stem to stern before placing the glasses back on my face. By that time, the dishwasher had stopped emitting steam, and I could see and empty any dishes which were holding water before closing the door and allowing the drying cycle to run.
Instead of a rumpled spirit, I had sparkling clean eyeglasses. Instead of fussing and irritation, I was relaxed.
And all it took was a change of attitude and perspective.
It’s strange, sometimes, the small and mundane ways that major lessons arrive in this life. Something as simple as opening a hot dishwasher door can inform us of just how often we view things askew, making our lives much more difficult and uncomfortable than they need to be.
I sometimes now stop, when I am irritated beyond measure by some minor event, and attempt to apply the lesson I learned from my steamed-up eyeglasses and the dishwasher door. And instead of steaming up within my spirit, I often find a way through to peace and courtesy and calm.
It might not be on par with sitting on that hillside listening to a master teacher speak the beatitudes, but I’ll take my lessons where I can find them. I am teachable; I can learn to be the master of my own attitude.