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Tuesday, May 21, 2002

The first thing to do, when faced with an impossible task, is to get started. This bit of acquired wisdom comes courtesy of my experience in the yard today. You'd think I'd have learned lessons like this some time in the distant past. And maybe I did, because after all, I did finally get started on the high weeds. It was only after working for awhile that I realized, "Hey. I got started. That was a good first step."

After all, you can't even know whether a task is truly impossible or not until you give it a shot. At first this afternoon I just plunged in with both hands, ripping up everything I could get to. When it dawned on me that this tactic was getting me nowhere, I taught myself another lesson. Slow down and think about what you're doing. I slowed down and made a calculated decision to go after only the highest of the high grasses, the real eyesores that brought me outside to work in the first place.

There are weeds and then there are weeds. Just because something grows wild and uninvited doesn't mean it has to be wiped out, especially when the high grass is drying out and the summer fire season is coming. Prioritize. I should have learned to do that, since it's what I do inside at my desk all day every day. Prioritize. We must have our priorities, and I can stand to look at weeds that are colorful or interesting. The rest of the day I just pulled up the weeds all around the colorful, interesting ones.

Once I focused on my task and slowed down from the frenzy I started with, I began to enjoy my yard work more. Is there a lesson there? Probably. Every so often I had to stop and take a step back to see what I was doing, though. I'm sure that's something I should remember: Keep sight of the bigger target, and don't get lost in the details. If you stay aware of what you're doing, you can refocus whenever it's necessary. Plus, you can admire your work, and see what's left to do.

There's only so much I can do at one time, and I have to keep reminding myself of that fact. I can't be overwhelmed by how little I seem to be getting done. It's all part of a larger undertaking, and as long as I keep making daily progress I have to be satisfied with that. I know I'll never run out of things to do in the yard, but that's not the point anyway. It keeps growing, and I keep hacking away at it. It's not victory I'm looking for, but some kind of equilibrium.

In fact, I'd say that's the biggest lesson I have to keep relearning. When facing an impossible task, the best approach is a simple one. Lower your expectations. What more basic philosophy could there be? It's my motto, my mantra, the key to a happy life. Lower your expectations.


No, the deer didn't come back today. This is another picture from yesterday.

You know who'll be disappointed when all the high weeds in the back yard are gone? The bushtits. Tiny little birds they are, and they'll perch on anything. It almost seems they try to land on the lightest, flimsiest possible place. They'll sit sideways on a blade of tall grass, or dangle from the tip as it sways upside down under their weight. It's comical and entertaining, but they'll have to find some other way to amuse themselves when I'm done with the yard. And they will.

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