Friday, January 23, 2009

The value of methodical procedure

I remember hearing a story years ago about a neurosurgeon who, in an attempt to focus all his necessary energy on his patients and work, would organize the simple things in his life down to ritualistic routine. He would drive the exact same route to work every day, at the very same time, so that he wasn't spending any unnecessary energy on unexpected surprises. I remember thinking to myself that he must not live in Calgary because the weather patterns here would drive nuts. I also remember thinking it was a bit over the top. But I began to think of the reasoning behind this kind of organization because it twigged to me the other day just how much energy I was spending as a result of not being precisely organized.

Over the last number of weeks I've been tired. Really tired. I looked back on all the things I've been doing since we flipped our calendars over January One, and... no wonder! I've been keeping appointments, taking classes, moving stuff, doing business and keeping hobbies - seemingly all at once. And I like it. A lot. Every so often, however, I've hit this wall of frustration when I'd inadvertently set my keys down without thinking where, gathering items for a meeting and doing the same thing - mostly out of haste.

On Wednesday, a friend told me that I sometimes tend to look for immediate results in my approach to things. Our particular discussion was centred around yoga. I was sorta complaining that some things that I've wanted to achieve physically through yoga haven't been happening as I have expected. Funny, because when I talk about these things I tend to talk about them in an critical, assesing sort of a way, whereas when I'm actually in the studio DOING postures and stretches, I'm very much about 'letting things happen' and not 'making things happen'. It could be poor word choice in my discussions, or maybe I truly am impatient, who knows?

Last week at the pottery studio I discovered something very first-hand that, after the fact was blindingly obvious: The minute I 'let go' and allowed the wheel to provide the physical force necessary to centre the clay, it was indeed centred. I could push and pull and twist all I wanted, but gentleness brought about a centredness that was very much something of a natural order. I let go my grasp, and naturally the clay went into its centred position, ready for me to open it.

"Interesting.", I thought.

I very gently opened the clay body and raised it - careful not to pinch, but rather guiding it - no more, no less - to a raised cylinder. Taking my fingers, pointed straight down, I used one on each side of the cylinder to shape it into a bowl from the inside.

Know what I ended up with?

You guessed it, a popcorn bowl! The ever-elusive popcorn bowl that I've wanted to make for the better part of a year now, happened.

Sadly, my popcorn bowl met its demise in the trimming stage a few days later when I inadvertently powered up the wheel to full-blast rotation trying to dislodge the foot pedal from underneath the wheel. My poor bowl landed side-down on the concrete floor.

Poor bowl.

The lesson was invaluable, and it applies to everything. James Keelaghan once sang the words,

One thing that I learned that day
You can whip and you can curse,
But you'll get as good a ride
If you use gentle, lovin' words.


So yesterday I started practicing focused, thoughtful and gentle action. It tends to take more time to achieve things, but one look at my desk this morning and I was sold on not only the strategy, but the belief.

Namaste, all - and speak some gentle words today -- see what happens.


Janice said...

It's called "Thoughtfulness" it's kind of like Zen.


Anna said...

oh yes, mad as a wet hen! however, I have never seen one wet, yet I imagine she'd be snippy at the least, furious perhaps...

as for living in bubbles, you seem right out in the middle of things.

although I was sorry to hear about the bowl... unfortunate! yet, it came. some things, so lovely, are but for a reason.

instead of a season or a lifetime. if nothing else, that bowl awaits you again... :)))

About Me

My photo
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
English student, Pottery enthusiast, Yoga novice and lover of all people. I make friends over a warm handshake and a beverage. I discover, every day, someone willing to help me along my path.