Saturday, 18 March 2017

Post-St. Patrick's Day

I took yesterday off work just for a break, and I had a lovely day. Slept in to 6:30 (which was amazing). Got up and wrote a mystery for hours, worked on the tapestry for a while, played ball with the dog, went grocery shopping, watched an old episode of Dead Zone, read Malcolm Gladwell, napped, then walked down to the library and the mall, where I bought seeds in preparation for spring planting. Husband came home from work and made hamburgers. Listened to my son describe his butchery class (not quite so fun, but nice to interact with him). Drove my son to his friend's house. In bed by 9:00.

All in all the perfect, relaxing day. I would love every day to be like that, full of creativity and accomplishment. No pressure, no need to wear makeup or a watch. M. Fukuoka (I think I spelled that right) taught that the art of living isn't to do this or do that, but to learn to Not Do. To learn to let things unfold as they undoubtedly will anyway, and not waste time on trying to micro-manage everything in life. He would scatter a variety of seeds in his garden, for example, and let nature decide what would survive and where, according to each little micro-climate, soil conditions, etc. Whatever could thrive would thrive, without human intervention. All he had to do was open up the possibilities, and nature did the rest.

I think it takes a lot of courage and humility to loosen our grasp on every detail and trust nature to know what to do without us directing everything. Just as it takes courage and humility to let go of what we think we control in our lives and tell God "Thy will be done." But imagine how freeing that would be if we could actually do that! How restful it would be not to try to organize the universe ourselves. To tap into the creative and nourishing energy of the earth and let it sustain us without trying to dominate it. Mr. Fukuoka managed to do it, and he lived to be 95.

One of the hazards of being an admin assistant (correction: I got upgraded to "Executive Assistant" this week, which means absolutely nothing in regard to change, but looks nicer on a résumé) is that you have to micro-manage everything. It's my job to make sure every staple, every paper clip, every number in the Excel sheet is as perfect as possible. Meetings have to end on the dot so that the next one can begin. Every sheet of paper my boss needs must be at her fingertips. There can't be a single typo. Words must not run into the letterhead. The muffins provided at the meeting must accommodate every person's dietary restrictions. There can't be any glitches. It's my job to make my bosses' world run smoothly.

When you've been buried in that kind of precision and micro-management 35 hours a week for 30 years, it's a difficult thing to step back and relinquish control. But really, we control very little in our lives, when we're honest about it. I can make every possible effort, but there can still be a power outage that wipes out my beautifully-crafted PowerPoint, or the Catering Department could mess up the muffin order, or someone might be ill and postpone the finely-prepared meeting. I could be hit by a bus on the way to work. The government could shut us down completely.

The key, I think, is to do your best but keep it all in perspective. Be flexible. Don't let your ego intrude, and don't let your sense of self worth get entangled in it. Because ultimately that isn't what matters. The only thing really required of us is to keep breathing in and out, eat, sleep, and take care of those around us. The rest is just frosting.

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