Sweat cleanses from the inside. It comes from places a shower will never reach. ~George Sheehan
A few years ago, we decided to step out of our yard and hired a lawn service to do the maintenance. From a time perspective, it was wonderful. Our lawn was nicely manicured and we spent zero time on it. I began to notice that we also spent zero time in it. This year, I felt the call of the wild and decided to cancel the lawn service. Yesterday was my first, full-on, day in the yard. What a gift!
I spent an entire day cutting, pruning, weeding, seeding….laboring in my yard. Step by step, I covered every inch of the property and saw the good, the bad and the ugly of the beds, the grass, and the trees. It was real work – the kind that actually produces sweat and the associated aches and pains of movements to which the body has become unaccustomed. I saw my yard in a new way but more importantly, I saw my time and priorities in a new way.
An interesting thing happens when we outsource the basic functions of our lives. It removes us from some of the gritty details of our world and the fulfillment that comes from engaging with them. Yes, it can save time to allow us to do more “productive” activities but it also prevents us from experiencing the joy and satisfaction that comes from accomplishing even the smallest tasks. For me, the raw physicality of laboring in the yard was a refreshing break from the phones, computers, and desks of my working life. The effort allowed me an elemental connection with a part of my life that was forgotten and very much needed.
As much as we like to spend our time in the more strategic i.e. more important, aspects of our life, we are missing a tremendous opportunity for perspective. Walking behind my mower yesterday gave me a view of my yard that I could not get from the patio or kitchen window. There were beautiful, natural surprises as well as issues that were hidden from a distance. This applies to any aspect of our work or personal life. The further we are removed, the harder it can be to see the little things that can add up to big things, good or bad, over time.
We all have to prioritize our time and that changes as our place in life changes. Just remember that there is fulfillment and clarity to be found in the little tasks that we tend to push away. Whether it is simple filing at the office or pulling weeds from your flower bed, immersing yourself (even occasionally) in the menial can energize your soul while refreshing your routine.