Finding a new type of Completion
Finding accomplishment among the mess isn’t easy when you’re used to working to your own routine and pattern. The last few weeks have challenged my perspective and my MO (modus operandus) given the unexpected external events that have taken my attention from my usual routine and structure and led me to new places.
I’m reminded of the story called ‘The Temple Garden’ in Ajahn Brahm’s book ‘Who Ordered this Truckload of Dung’ (one of my favourite reads of 2017 I might add). It’s the story of a young gardening monk tending the beautiful monastery gardens. This monk would ensure that every twig and leaf was in its exact place as visitors from all over the world would come to visit these renown and exquisitely arranged gardens.
One day an older monk came to visit the gardens to discover why this garden was deemed to be the most inspiring. The old monk hid behind a bush and watched the young monk pick up every leaf and twig, observe it and then determine if the leaf would be used or disposed of. The young monk strategically placed the best leaves back on the ground and prepared to take the rest away. He was surprised when, after several hours of tending to the garden the old monk stepped out and commended him on his work. The old monk also mentioned to him that his work was ‘almost perfect’. The young monk was filled with self-remonstration and pleaded for compassion from the older monk, who agreed to show him how to create a perfect garden.
The older monk grabbed the branches of the tree and shook them so vigorously that leaves and twigs fell all over the hours of work and absolute perfection that the young monk had created. When no more leaves would fall, he stopped shaking the tree. The young monk was horrified as his garden was ruined. However, with a smile that melts anger the old monk said, “Now your garden is perfect.”
My ‘garden’ at the moment has no internet or landline phone, a pile of papers that were meant to have been tended to weeks ago and I’ve found myself in catch up mode with some of my obligations. Unexpected external events of the last two months have rightly demanded my time and attention and I’m now in a space where I’m coaching myself to accept that my garden is totally perfect in its imperfection. I’m reminding myself that things happen in their own good time and that the tasks will always be there, regardless of what occurs. And yes – it’s not easy when you’re more familiar with operating at high pace, to a schedule and getting the mahi done every day.
Taking time to make the space and live more like a cat has been my priority as well. Accepting that both my metaphorical and literal gardens aren’t where I had planned for them to be at this stage of the year is challenging and uncomfortable and I’m learning to be okay with these. The internet going on holiday this week and last meant a technology free weekend so whenever I did think of working it was in the ‘too hard’ basket’. And I know that there will always be things to do. And when I complete those things they will generate more things to do. And then there will be more things to do from those things. And on it goes. it is the cycle of life. And there will always be the unexpected which I know by now that I should expect. I am being tested.
The one thing that is constant in life is change and the unexpected and I’m getting used to the ‘clunkiness’ of entering a new type of unstructured structure and flexible routine. My new version of completion.