Friday, May 8, 2020

Take Care of Your Tools

One thing that I love about reading about gardening is metaphors derived from the plants and from working with them. Five Acres and Independence by MG Kains has a short chapter on choosing the right tools for your gardens.

He writes: "One point seldom emphasized is that an owner is more likely to take care of good tools than of poor ones."

The "buy-for-life" movement is very real and full of merit. Investing in the products that enrich our lives -- our tools, our dishes, our kitchenware, our luggage -- can not only save us money in the long run but also cut down on the waste we create over the course of our lives. More about investing soon.

Five Acres and IndependenceWe can apply Kains's philosophy to the mind, body, spirit approach to life, as well. For instance, there are tools on the market, such as this one, that are designed to have three separate purposes such as hammering, pulling nails, and prying things open. This is not the metaphor that I'm searching for. Separate purposes reflect the scattered nature of modern society.

For example, one could be an expert at his craft, say a highly knowledgeable electrical engineer. He could also be an accomplished powerlifter in the evenings, as well as an avid practitioner at his church or temple. Checking these three boxes does not equate to living a life rich in truth unless all three practices have the intention of a full life of truth behind them.

That is to say, this fictional man could have easily pursued engineering for the money, weightlifting for the external appearance and the superficial rewards that come along with big muscles, and finally the religious activity due to cultural pressures instead of an organic spiritual drive burning from within. But, of course, there certainly is a version of the fictional man that I drew up who is the real McCoy, the one working on himself for all of the right reasons.

This brings me back to investing. When we have a deeply rich focus on our pursuits in life, we earn a satisfaction that is more valuable than anything else out there. "Value" is probably not even the right word because of its close relationship with money. No amount of money will bring satisfaction to a true seeker on his day of dying, so build your own shovel with your mind, body, and spirit. Perhaps the hole that it will dig slowly, day in and day out, will not be an easily known and measurable entity in this world. It will probably not be a diploma or a deed to a house. However, it very well may be the small farm you have worked on or the art you have created.

And I do strongly believe that creativity is part of the puzzle of this world. If our vision of a full and rich life, our individual image of that metaphorical hole we are digging, might possibly be required to embody a creative pursuit. That is not to say that we all must be artists, poets, or musicians. Creating life as parents, pet owners, and gardeners do is also a form of creativity, as is creating health as doctors or nurses do, or creating love as teachers of all forms do. This list could go on ad infinitum.

Good luck digging your hole. Take care of the three tools you need in order to dig deeply and wisely: mind, body, and spirit. Give your work the focus of the universal creative spirit, and don't look back.

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