Weed Blackberries, Carry Water

There is an ancient Japanese Zen proverb that goes:

Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water
After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water

Now before you start saying “How stupid is that?” I want to say that there is actual meaning here.
Before enlightenment you chop wood and carry water; all the while complaining about how hard it is, and how hot it is, and how you shouldn’t have to do it anyway.
After enlightenment you chop wood and carry water; participating in the experience: enjoying the warmth of the sun on your back, the strength of your muscles, and so on.

Today’s task in the yard was to weed the berry patch along the north fence. I did it. All of this:


Came from here:


I began it feeling overwhelmed, embarrassed by having put it off so long, and irritated by the fact that I do it over and over again, every winter into spring.

Then I remembered the proverb. Things immediately got much better. I started to actually feel the warmth of the sun, and feel the soft breeze which still smells a little of the sea even 35 miles inland. I spotted two small fence lizards and two butterflies. I noticed some shoots that will bloom and bear next year, and I got done much sooner than I anticipated.

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