Sep 132013
 

While I was at Broadwell for a work day, I was given the job of washing a bunch of the compost and food buckets. While I was doing that, Constantine tasked me with thinking about a question to ask Kathy once I was done with that job. The question I was to ask was “You seem to enjoy and have fun making soil and the verma-compost and everything about that. Why?” (That wasn’t exactly the right question and I will address that later.) I found that washing the buckets was “work” and yet it seemed to me that Kathy enjoys her work with that all stuff. So I finished washing those buckets and went in to ask her. I asked and as I had somewhat anticipated, it blew up from a possible simple 5 minute answer to a nice hour and a half conversation mostly about that topic question, starting with her just thinking about it for a minute. Her first main point was that she did not in fact have fun, as I had put it, washing buckets. She went on to say that she did all that (partially) because she hates what we do: People in general don’t know what happens to their waste (of any kind), they just flush it, chuck it or what ever and that sucks. It is of course quite a bit easier to just throw that rotten apple away instead of composting it. The problem is that that apple will go into a landfill and rot with all the other organic materials in that landfill, creating tons of methane, which is a greenhouse gas. Besides that methane problem, it’s simply a waste: to throw away that food instead of turning it into something useful, like compost full of natural nutrients.

Another problem is that we aren’t responsible at all with our resources. We would rather use resource consumptive things like chemical fertilizers instead of good natural compost. Doing what she does is important to our future. She use very little resources to turn the food scraps into usable compost. So Kathy decided, on one part, to provide a community service of composting.

Kathy also said she partially does it because it means she isn’t contributing to the current problem. Besides doing it for herself, she does it for others by taking their organic materials and composts that for them. With her doing that, for herself and others, Kathy helps other to see and understand what and why she’s doing what’s she’s doing. If they learn something from her, and if they do what they learn, that helps them contribute less to the problem as well.

Lastly, she said that overall, she enjoys the ends results for her and the planet, but not so much the work getting there. She enjoys knowing that she is not contributing to the problem, and possibly, making it better. She also enjoys the continual learning that come with her job. Learning about what’s actually happening in the compost and why, what happens to the plants that use it versus chemical fertilizers. But also not just about the compost or whatever, but also the larger impact of the whole project. She enjoys telling people what she has learned and finding and meeting people that understand, both the problem that he is trying to help and what she’s trying to do.

In doing the service that she does, she enjoys the fact that people like what she’s doing for them and for the planet. Besides that, it’s an important thing to do, no matter how small the actual impact will be. So as Kathy said to me, “what’s fun got to do with it?” It’s important and it needs done.

  to “Question to Kathy J.”

  1. Hi Miles and all!
    Thank you for your interest and your efforts to reflect back the gist of our conversation via this blog entry.
    I think you did a good job at capturing what I was communicating on the surface but upon reading this I feel that I did not adequately convey the essence, largely because of the weight the topic of “fun” carried and the realization that we share very different perspectives regarding life, priorities, etc.
    I would like to clarify that I do not feel “hate” toward people due to their lifestyle choices. I feel sad due to what I feel are the consequences of their actions/non-actions but not hate; mostly I find myself in a position of acceptance with a sense of love and compassion.
    I would like to also share that I do not think, feel that many people like or appreciate what I am trying to do in service for them, for the planet, for future generations; can’t blame anyone since most people have no idea. It seems to me that if they liked what I was doing, if they also viewed what I was doing as a community service, that they would choose to contribute, participate, purchase products, etc., to help sustain the efforts.
    But, overall, you captured some of what was exchanged fairly well but perhaps this quote from someone’s blog will convey the essence better:

    ” A great Zen master was once asked, “What did you do before getting enlightened?”
    The master replied, “I was chopping wood and carrying water for my master”

    “What do you do now?”, asked the questioner.
    Zen master replied, “I chop wood and carry water for myself”

    The questioner queried, “So what is the difference?, you did this before and you are doing the same now”

    When I first read this story I thought it is some zen philosophy which is complex to understand. After some time, I again came across same story and with a deep thought, realized what it means.

    It means earlier zen master was doing it unconsciously, now he is doing it consciously.

    Before enlightenment it was a burden for him.
    After enlightenment, he still had to chop wood and carry water and while he was doing the exact same thing, his perspective was totally different, it wasn’t a burden at all, it was a beautiful part of life.

    Moral of the story:

    Whatever we do in life, it really doesn’t much matter, it is the state of mind that we do it in, that matters.

    The story tells us that our day to day life, physical circumstances may not change much for us, on the pathway to spiritual journey, but our perspective may change immeasurably.

    We should not expect a big difference in what we do prior and after during our spiritual endeavor.
    The activities that we do in daily life, we have to continue doing them as it is.
    We might be working at the same job and living in the same house, traveling same way, eating same food, working with same people, doing same work and still be a new person.

    The change is internal first, and external second.

    The purpose of existence for the follower of spiritual endeavor is simply to live an ordinary life, but with mindfulness.

    For most of us, everyday actions are done habitually, without thinking.

    According to Zen, this lack of attention is evidence of a separation between the individual and the world around him or her.

    We are always looking ahead to what will happen in future or looking what happened in the past, instead of experiencing the present moment.

    Mindful attention to everyday activities provides an awareness of the present moment, and the opportunity to recognize the peace within both in self and other.

    “Before Enlightenment – chop wood, carry water;
    after Enlightenment – chop wood, carry water.”
    Old Zen saying ”

    copied from http://www.speakingtree.in/spiritual-blogs/seekers/meditation/chop-wood-carry-water

  2. Peter Rowan: “Fetch Wood, Carry Water” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8xm7vpFCfBk

    Lyrics:
    Fetch Wood, Carry Water

    –Peter Rowan

    Smell it in the desert when it starts to rain.
    Taste it in the snow falling up on the mountain.
    Feel it in the fire when it warms you with its glow.
    See it in the colors of the rainbow.
    Trouble fly, let it go, bird on the wing.
    Fear not, when you breathe out you breathe in.
    In this very life you shall be free, yeah.
    You will find the time to rest your mind in luminosity.

    You know the secret, but you never tell.
    You know the secret, but you keep it oh so well.
    Now baby don’t go like a lamb to slaughter.
    I will fetch the wood.
    I will carry water.
    It’s no chore, it’s no bother.
    I will fetch the wood.
    I will carry water.

    Evil times come with a bitter tribulation.
    All fall down without a strong foundation.
    Like a child on a battlefield, a candle in a hurricane.
    In this mad, mad world, only the mad are sane.

    You know the secret, but you never tell.
    You know the secret, but you keep it oh so well.
    Now baby don’t go like a lamb to slaughter.
    I will fetch the wood.
    I will carry water.
    It’s no chore, it’s no bother.
    I will fetch the wood.
    I will carry water.

    Feather the paddle and the boat will row.
    Above the flood, beyond the flow.
    Feather the arrow of your mind and let it fly.
    Into the heart of the empty sky.

    You know the secret, but you never tell.
    You know the secret, but you keep it oh so well.
    Now baby don’t go like a lamb to slaughter.
    I will fetch the wood.
    I will carry water.
    It’s no chore, it’s no bother.
    I will fetch the wood.
    I will carry water.

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