I love this (I found it again in The Snow Leopard, a beautiful book about wandering paths, and The Path, in the Himalayas):
How wondrous, how mysterious!
I carry fuel, I draw water.
P’ang Chu-shih – Layman P’ang
It’s the perfect Zen idea that all the wonder of the universe is available to us in the most simple actions – if we just stop and look!
This week I’ve been stopping and chopping wood. I have a bit of free time at the moment and find that I’m drawn endlessly to surfing the net – and though I haven’t been on the computer for more than two hours a day, surfing the net makes me ‘nervioso‘ as the Spanish say – anxious, stressed, and drains me quickly of body heat.
Perhaps I’ve overdone it over the past 8 or so years of heavy net-based work, and I’m burnt out.
So I go down into the garden and chop wood. How wondrous, how mysterious! This simple mechanical action fills me with happiness (and warms me up), and makes me wonder how I can turn my life further in this direction. The internet is increasingly unfulfilling. Reality is a joy!
Soon I’ll have chopped up all the wood from the pine trees I cut back outside the house this week. We thought about cutting more back, to get more light into the house, but I don’t think I can do it, as there are blackbirds and a family of blue- or great-tits that feed and roost in them. I can’t take away more of their habitat with the excuse that we, 3 humans, need more light.
So I’ll look for other everyday manual activities that make me equally happy.
Washing up, sweeping leaves – how wondrous, how mysterious! – Why not?