“The best way to get your mind off something is to put it on something else.”
The sink suffers in shamed uselessness. From its steel basin, a polychromatic, jagged landscape of ceramics and plastics, steel and china rises up. It’s packed tight with a lifeless menagerie of dishes, cups, bowls, silverware — even a few items I can’t identify. The sink’s faucet is held prisoner — jammed tight between two imposing, cymbal-sized plates.
Still, despite the mess in the sink, the kitchen cupboards are nearly bursting with more of the same. Overloaded, their screws have stripped from the wall and the cupboards have managed to partially free themselves and tilt toward the floor in a frozen, precarious bow, honoring the great god gravity.
Looking at all of this, I stand quietly and feel my patience slipping away. It’s clear to me that my wife’s feverish mania for thrift store tableware has gotten so bad that it threatens our very lives. I must act.
I rise early in the morning and make my way to the kitchen. Stealthily, I box up the excess dishware in an effort to liberate the sink. As its burden lightens, it creaks an appreciative, metallic moan. I quietly drag the boxes into our walk-in closet, which then becomes a look-in closet.
But my work isn’t over. Because we must rinse the tableware before it goes in the dishwasher, I need to determine the best, most efficient schedule for moving the dishes from the sink to the dishwasher. Unfortunately, this proves to be a challenge as I unravel the rat’s nest of risks. I discover that each new factor — a guest for dinner, a midnight snack, for example — leads to even more possibilities for too many or too few plates.
Lost in these thoughts, a vision engulfs me. The potentialities connected to the dishwasher issue appear and blossom into giant chrysanthemums with each petal another risk to account for. I look at one of these petals, and it multiplies itself, spreading into more petals. The other petals on the flower do the same.
I have reached kitchen nirvana, a place beyond words, even logic. I stand at the edge of rational thought. On the doorstep of yogis and Zen masters, I am about to push the doorbell and enter a place that takes even the most devout searchers years of quiet, focused meditation to find.
“Why are you staring at the dishwasher?” My wife’s voice pierces through and shatters my world into a million shards. Luckily, I still hold tight to a glowing, heavy jewel, one that lights my path as I journey towards a more fluid understanding, a grander truth. It whispers into my ear: No matter how hard you try, you can never predict every potential risk before you. When you load the dishwasher, keep this in mind: If the dishwasher isn’t full, wait. If there are more dishes than space, leave some for the next day.
That evening I fall asleep quickly, skipping the usual grappling with insomnia that had become a nightly habit. In the dream that soon follows, I am on a golden hill at twilight. The summer day’s heat is slowly fading while a light, welcome breeze softly caresses my face and tussles my hair. Above me, the stars begin to poke through the darkening velvet. Around me, life celebrates in chirps and scented blossoms. And then, in the sky, two massive platters appear. They rise, and then explode into flowery fireworks that fall to earth, fading into oblivion, absorbed by the night.
I stretch out on the soft earth, still warm from the sun. The show continues and I think to myself, “Tomorrow, the living room!”