Straw Removal

(when your are finished with this weeks column, you can check out this week’s radio program at www.ruralreflections.net)

 

A little spring cleaning is a cheap way to beautify your home. Spring cleaning can also be a mind expanding time for self-reflection and discovery at our home. I’ll try explain myself.

I always insulate our septic tank and drain field every winter with a layer of straw. A big part of getting our yard ready for spring is straw removal. This is simple, tedious work which gives my mind plenty of opportunity to do its own cleaning and unload the reams of “useless knowledge” I’ve acquired in the past year. After this little mind flush, I can usually come up with a few deep thoughts-perhaps even a revelation.

This week, I trained my unburdened mind on the straw bales directly above the septic tank. There arises heat from the septic tank all winter and so the area under the straw bales is a sort of tropical resort for small animals. It’s actually an area undiscovered by most as old straw, septic tanks and mice are not pleasant conversation for most folks. Most oceanographers will remind you that while we have explored a good deal of Space and much of the Moon, we have explored very little of our own oceans. This same premise extends to the area under the straw bales and on top of the septic tank, it’s quite unexplored-probably for good reason.

Now it might just be the mold I breathed that rose from my efforts with the straw, but I began to think about how I perform a given task. I used to work around our place like I was fighting a dragon under great duress; I now welcome these little tasks and the dragons are more like house pets. I have begun to work like an old man. I kind of enjoy the tasks and perform them in a steady way that takes a bit longer than in the past but is much more rewarding. I used to end a task with heart burn because I put so much pressure on myself to get everything done quickly, this week I decided it would take as long as needed and peacefully finished. I’m not sure this is the way people accomplish great things, however I am pretty sure it’s a way to feel great while accomplishing things.

I also considered my own place in the world during this week’s straw removal. I had a good conversation this week about what is really important in life and what it means to feel accomplished. I cannot name all of the Presidents of the United States but I can name every teacher who’s made a difference in my life. I would not travel twenty feet out of my way to shake hands with a celebrity but will happily travel the fifteen miles to see our godson and his family.

Time spent seeking accolades for fleeting notoriety leaves you empty while being good at your job will get you a good night’s sleep, that’s an accomplishment. If you take the time to thoroughly teach someone a skill, then you are the giant whose shoulders upon which they will stand, that‘s an important accomplishment. If you spend your time making your family stronger, they will honor you for generations to come, a good place to be in the world. If you see each task as an opportunity for improvement and not as an inconvenience, it’s no longer as task but rather a chance to find your place in the world.

So I learned a little while removing straw this week; what it is to be accomplished, my place in the world and even how to leave a little legacy. I wish I had more to tell you, however there was only so much straw.

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