What’s next??

May 2, 2012

I just spent a week at my parents’ place in Wisconsin, and there is nothing like the country to lend perspective on all human endeavors.  My city slicker problems melted away as we discussed more relevant matters:  Which recycled materials in the basement were going to become a proper chicken coup?  How were my brothers and partner going to extract a giant boulder from the middle of the garden?  What shape would this year’s deer fence take?  What was for dinner?

The old hay fort...remember?

Admittedly, I sat out on most of the physical labor.  My sciatica has been bothering me, and my body needed a rest from the very regular work it does as an urban gardener.  I took a few naps, played with my son, and practiced not doing much (something quite challenging for me, actually.)   But as I observed the projects in action, I felt refreshed from the sidelines.  Country living is more about survival, and there is something both difficult and thrilling about that fact.

Please don’t get me wrong—this city mouse isn’t trying to romanticize “the land.”  I think I was just excited to get back to a tangible Process.  Can you build something from the materials you have?  Will your contraption keep the critters out?  And so on.  It’s almost as if life  feels like more of a process when you are engaged in a practical project.  What can I say?  I’m from Midwest farming stock.

The end results were good.  The boys built a stylish coup for the new chickens.  I did some cooking and with my Mom’s expert guidance, I learned to make a Schaum torte (an old family recipe.)  My folks got some work done, but most importantly we celebrated my Mother’s 70th birthday.  Another poignant reminder that life is a project, best done one day at a time.

Spring has been a little messy this year–not so great for projects.  Here are a few examples from my life (though I am sure you have your own.)

Bay area rains have come very late wreaking havoc on my schedule.

My son’s school is having an administrative meltdown for the second year in a row, and community moral is very low.  More serious conversations are in store, with no resolution in site.  I am feeling very sad about this, and have been looking around for some kind of fourth party perspective to help me understand why people will treat each other like like dirt (back to surviving…)

I’ve not had the stamina to market my business, and have been struggling with how best to represent what it is that I do in the world.   In short, “microcosmic” emotional work is still a very humbling project.

Yet I am still doing this work of herbalim and gardening, even though many don’t know about it and I don’t know where it will lead me.   I can’t stop even though there is some part of me that just wants to sign up for the ‘couch potato’ or ‘I don’t care’ position.  I know they have openings…

I’ve also learned a few things, like:

Some projects just take a long time, even though I wish it were otherwise.

Projects with other people take as many times as long as there are participants.   And some steps in a project are simple, but others are extremely complicated–one must take the long view.

It is good to just start by asking “what’s next?”  What’s my next step in my life’s project?

Happy Birthday Mom.