Where do you do your best thinking? Where do you ponder the big questions? The meaning of life stuff. I would love to say I do my best thinking under green lamps at study tables in prestigious libraries or while meditating on mountaintops, but the truth is I do some of my best thinking on the riding lawn mower, circling my yard.
Again, in the interest of honesty, my “best thinking” is never going to set the world on fire, but occasionally I have an epiphany. The other day was such a time.
The day was beautiful with warm sunshine making it pleasant to be working outside, and a thick layer of leaves was covering the grass. I got the mower out, planning to pick up all the leaves, then add them to the compost pile in order to use them to fertilize my garden in the spring. A whole circle-of-life moment. I was feeling very Zen about it all.
It was so satisfying to see the strips of spotless lawn once the leaves were removed, however, the newness of the task wore off pretty quickly, and suddenly I was thinking what a Sisyphean task it was.
In Greek mythology, Sisyphus cheated death twice and was punished for that by being forced to roll a gigantic boulder up a hill only for it to roll down every time it neared the top. He was forced to repeat this for eternity. The job that never ends.
Sometimes when picking up leaves in the fall, I feel his pain. And that's when I had an insight, but I need to switch gears for it to make sense.
Several years ago I learned that in Buddhism, dukkha is the first Noble Truth, and it acknowledges that there is suffering in life. The Second Noble Truth is that suffering is caused by attachment.
It took me a while to understand how being attached is a bad thing, and then I realized that we become attached to more than people or places or things. We become attached to the idea of a certain outcome. In other words we want what we want, and if we can’t have it we get upset or angry or frustrated. In other words, we suffer.
So for a couple of years now I’ve been working on becoming detached, of letting what happens, happen. And yes, I get the irony of having a goal, or being attached to the idea of not being attached. I did tell you earlier that my thinking wasn’t going to set the world on fire!!
As I was moving and picking up leaves, a light breeze blew and sure enough, it sent a cascade of new leaves down from the trees and onto my pristine yard. My first reaction was “you have GOT to be kidding me” and then I saw the absurdity of it all.
What a perfect opportunity to practice detachment. So while I still have an agenda or an outcome that I would like to come to fruition, I’m going to do my best to roll with the punches, to let the chips, or in this case the leaves, fall where they may.