The Zen masters say, “Before enlightenment; chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment; chop wood, carry water.”
Here at Honey Grove, we are definitely on the ‘before enlightenment’ side of the fence, but there is plenty of wood to be chopped and water to be carried, so hopefully we’re on the right track. It has been rumoured that this winter will be a cold one and so we have both decided that we’d rather have too much wood than not enough. This said, many more hours have been spent stacking and chopping.
This morning, looking out the window at yet another giant pile of wood waiting to be stacked, we were both feeling about as far from enlightenment as two people can get. “Another task,” we thought, “another thing we have to get done, before we can do that other thing we want to get done, before we can do that other thing we want to get done…oh boy, are there ever a lot of things we want to get done.” These thoughts were followed by an increase in heart rate and a shortness of breath, and an urge to start running toward tasks, full speed with eyes closed. In my experience, these kinds of moments can go one of two ways. They can cause an immediate spike in stress and a fight, or they can become an opportunity for a shift in perspective. Since we have had our quota of fights for the week, we opted for a paradigm shift.
Surely there is some kind of wisdom in amongst the pressure of it all I thought, or maybe it’s more accurate to say, I hoped. Surely some wise one somewhere knew exactly of this human challenge and offered up a fantastic quote to put on fridge magnets and bumper stickers. A wise combination of words to help the human race get through tough times like this. And then it came to me, the light bulb went on as they say, and I remembered such a quote. It was something that Carl Jung once said, and goes like this, “if you’re on the journey, you’re at the goal.”
“Okay,” I said, to myself, to that pile of wood, to my white dog Gus, “it’s cool, everything is cool, because we are at the goal.” And so, on that quote, we went outside and shared our new-found inspiration with Mark, who looked like someone who was not remembering Carl Jung’s wise words at that particular moment in time. We marched right up to him, Gus and I, me in pajamas, Gus with an orange ball in his mouth and we told him (well, I told him and Gus supported me). I said, “I’ve got it, there is no need to be stressed, because my dear husband, we are at the goal.”
He looked confused.
And so I said, “we are going to make the work the meditation, there is no need to stress, because we are already at our goal, just doing the task is the goal.”
He still looked confused.
And so we (Gus and I) demonstrated. Gus did sun salutations and I sat in lotus on the top of the woodpile. And this time, he still looked confused, but at least he was laughing.
Yes, today we stacked more wood and we continued to work at getting the cottage ready for guests and we collected fresh steer manure for our Biodynamic gardening project and we considered plans for poly tunnels and we organized our receipts and we baked cookies and ate almost all of them. And when we were done, nothing looked any different, except our backs were sore and we now walk slightly more hunched over than we did, but other than that, it all looks pretty much the same.
But here is the thing, today we did it all without stress, without worry, without panic, without thinking that we MUST get it all done today, without thinking about what everybody else was thinking, or expecting of us, or what we thought they were thinking or expecting of us. We did it without a fight even. eh eh. We did it by surrendering to the wise words of Carl Jung, because, according to him “if you’re on the journey, you’re at the goal.” And as far as I can tell, and I hope you will agree, Carl Jung was a very wise man.
So here is what I say, “if you can’t see the forest for the trees, who cares, at least there are still trees.” (It’s no Carl Jung I know, but it cheers me up and keeps me carrying on if you know what I mean).