Week 169 – Chop wood, carry water

Before enlightenment; chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment; chop wood, carry water.‘ – Zen proverb

The companions of the depression afflicting me the past few months has been household clutter and cleaning tasks I’ve put off because I could. Paperwork and random stuff has migrated from location to location without disposition or a permanent location to reside. My floors have been grimy and the carpets received only cursory vacuuming. My charges of children, tropical fish, and a turtle have been suffering the unrecognized indignity of environments bordering on unhygienic.

The good news is that spring is here and I’m slowly coming out of my funk and tackling the things that need to get done in a burst of Spring Cleaning energy. After this winter’s record rainfall in the Seattle area, the sun broke through the other week and it lit a fire under me to get the house in order for hosting a birthday party for one of my kids.

Last weekend was a frenzy of mopping floors, vacuuming, mowing the lawn, decluttering the living room, family room, and kitchen, and cleaning the downstairs bathroom and kitchen before noon last Sunday. I had hoped to change the water and scrape the algae in the tanks but ran out of time.

As a further spur for more cleaning, I invited a neighbor couple to come to dinner last night. This drove more vacuuming and scouring, but again my fish tanks were neglected.

Today I had planned to take care of paperwork for my mom’s estate. Instead I ended up binging on Netflix while I changed water in my 125 gal/470 L tank and changed water, scraped algae, gravel vacuumed, pruned and thinned plants, and redecorated my 30 gal/110 L tank.

I spent all day doing these two things. I wanted to get ahead of the care curve and prep the smaller tank for new plants when the rest of my new LED lighting system arrives late next week. The before picture for the smaller tank is too embarrassing, so here’s the after shot:

A 30 gallon freshwater fish tank

Tomorrow I’ll attack the large tank’s algae and take care of Yoshi the turtle’s 75 gal/280 L tank.

Tending freshwater tropical aquatic fish and plants has been a lifelong hobby and passion and been my career twice. My custom hose/siphon rig makes water changes quick and that’s about all I’ve done with the tanks for months, so it felt really good to only focus on them for the day.

But this is a blog about gender, not a Spring Cleaning and tropical fish and plant blog. You might be wondering what they have to do with gender stuff.

Nothing at all.

The quote above speaks to being present during the tasks you perform during the day and not letting other things intrude while you’re doing them.

Cleaning the house, mowing the yard, and tending to my tanks are just some of my, ‘chop wood, carry water’ tasks. By focusing on the task at hand, I am not being trans, I am being.

Enlightenment and transition are similar. They are not destinations or achievements, but never-ending processes with moments of transcendental insights, with each insight accreting to a fuller understanding and appreciation of the universe and your place within it.

Don’t forget to chop your wood and carry your water while you transition.

‘Before transition; chop wood, carry water. After transition; chop wood, carry water.’ – Heather Coldstream

©Heather Coldstream

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2016: Poems from a Year of Change

Uncertain: Poems About Gender Transition


About cistotrans

A Seattle-area trans woman seeking a happy spot to stay at along the path of transition.
This entry was posted in gender transition, LGBT, observations, personal history, self-acceptance, transgender, transition and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Week 169 – Chop wood, carry water

  1. Connie Dee Ingalls says:

    Whenever I’m asked to explain what “trans” is, I give the answer that it is not about “transgender”, nor is it about “transition” – for me, anyway. I see it as a transcendence. People either get it (somewhat) or they come to the conclusion that they can never understand what I’m going through. Either way, it’s far beyond the obvious physical changes, as they relate to gender.

    Still, though, there are always the choppy waters and the wood I must carry as I move forward. 🙂


  2. Willa Patryn says:

    Yesterday’s weather here in SoCal high desert was cool enough to condsider having a warm fire. So i spent some time gathering, bundling, tying fire starters of dry twigs and small branches of yet another elm tree that had succumbed to the drought. Often it is the seemingly mundane tasks about us, that help move life along after being mired in the muck of depressive thoughts as I have.


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