A little thinking about work and mindfulness
| I was at war. In earnest pursuit of a tidy garden, I was kneeling among the dandelions, the horsetail and the couch grass, chopping into their roots and unearthing them from what I imagined was an oppressive genocide of my more cultured varieties of flora. I had noticed earlier the presence of a lineman working from a cherry picker out on the street. His van moved incrementally through the afternoon as it honed in on each utility pole, and, I presume, the next piece of work. It was not unlike my progress through the weed patches that invaded my garden. In time I noticed a sound that wove into my own grunts and curses, a sound that broke through my mental storytelling, my tale to myself about noxious weeds and neglected flowerbeds and aching backs and grudging labour.
A melodic sound of human rose above the birdsong and both brought me back to the present “what is”, but the human sound was especially poignant. The lineman was whistling. He whistled while he worked. My father always whistles while he works too and I remembered then what a comforting sensation that was, to hear him whistle and cheerfully fulfill a task.
I can’t whistle. Never could. I blamed it on my protruding front teeth but I think it was my lack of a dexterous tongue, judging by the many whistle aficionados that tried to teach me the trick, showing me the tubular curve they could achieve with their more talented appendage. I probably wouldn’t whistle even if I could. My attitude was just not a “whistle while you work” attitude. I was making war in the garden, not peace and whistling. Nevertheless, I sat back on my heels and thought about how I wanted to garden in a whistling way. That brought to mind all the reading and participating I’d been doing with Eckart Tolles book, “A New Earth” and Oprah’s website about “awakening” and finding a still place within.
This place, this stillness would be the power station for all my endeavors and a peaceful way of approaching tasks that was in alignment with the source of all power. The lineman was practicing “presence”. His task was probably no more onerous or more interesting than mine but he chose to be fully present while he worked and let his ego be busy whistling instead of complaining.
Now I felt determined to approach my work with a little more grace, which in my language means a coffee break and contemplation. From the deck and over a steaming rich cup of java, the dandelions turned their sunny yellow faces towards me, beaming their apologies for being so very happy in the wrong spot and inviting me to remove them at a leisurely pace as they were not yet bent on reproducing their numbers with fairy halos of seed. I shall not, I said to myself, disturb their peace until I find my own. Maybe tomorrow……