We have 25 large plants in our tiny condo. They bring a lot of life into the house.
Unfortunately, we’ve welcomed in another, not so welcomed, life form. Ants. Millions of them, laying white cotton-like nests all over the leaves and slowly killing our plants. The plants were in need of some de-anting, pruning and fertilizing.
On Saturday, we took time to tend to each plant, limb by limb, leaf by leaf. It was certainly tedious, but it needed to be done. They are, after all, living things.
Naturally, I could view this task as menial; a waste of my rather limited and valuable time. I could easily justify having someone else do this for me. I’ve certainly got more important things to do than tend to the plants.
However, I choose to view this as a time to practice patience, learn more about plants (lots of Googling) and take time to breathe in their life and remember that they are living things. It’s a practice in Zen. This time I learned how to make a natural ant deterrent spray that I sprayed all the leaves with.
It was quite therapeutic, and well worth my time. And now our plants are glowing and beautiful. They have more life, and fewer ants.
I meet a lot of people that are just doing a job or completing a task just because they were told to do it. Their ultimate goal is to be finished. But when your only goal is merely to be finished, it’s easy to see every setback or delay as a nuisance or failure.
If you are doing the work with purpose, because you care and believe the task is important, potential failures can easily be viewed as just being part of the process of achieving a greater goal. Every task or job presents an opportunity to learn and grow wiser.
My whole life is a workout. I take the stairs, carry the heavier bags, lug things across the property and so on. To me, it’s not meaningless grunt work. I get a constant workout. I find value in it, beyond just finishing the job. It’s a matter of perspective.
When I hire someone to do a job, I notice when they are performing just to finish and get paid vs. doing the job because they believe the outcome is important. They treat is as if it’s just another necessary task in order to survive.
If you choose to view the work as meaningless and inconsequential, it’s difficult to justify your time doing it, or to enjoy it or grow from the process. But if you view the work as part of a process, no matter how menial, it can be meaningful and even therapeutic.
The only difference is your perception.