Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Done and Undone

My experience on the farm is of course an opportunity to learn about farming, agriculture. Along the way, I've made a few observations about human nature, too.
One thing I've been thinking a lot about lately is the beginning and ending of things. Every action has a beginning and an end, but we rarely pay attention to this detail, living our lives with our endings and beginnings all tumbling into one another. More often, as I've noticed recently on the farm, we simply skip the ending, we wander off, and don't finish what we've started. More p
recisely, we may have finished the primary task, but we have not considered all that is required to end impeccably. We throw the tool down, we leave things strewn around, we're called to another task and we never come back.
Though I don't always succeed, I like to try to finish any activity... admirably...with an attention to detail that takes into account not only the task at hand, but future tasks, the ease vs. toil of future farmers, the care and maintenance of tools and equipment, and the aesthetic appeal of a clean, crisp finish; one where all aspects have been considered and cared for.

I feel like there is some kind of intangible value in true completion of a task. If the objective is to plant lettuce, the job is not done when the lettuce is in the ground. The job is truly done when the seedling containers are collected and returned to the greenhouse, the tools are put away in the shed, the hose is coiled and ready for the next project. It may be easy to just write me off as a neat-freak, but in fact I believe that this kind of attention to endings is immensely important in the process of living life. We need to examine our work and ask ourselves if we've done the best we can do. There may, of course, be times that we don't do our best work. It may be that we're tired or otherwise impeded. But in those cases, even the intention of doing our best work will suffice. When the intention of doing our best work is allowed to dissipate or not to matter, however, we only achieve a kind of apathetic carelessness. The lettuce may be in the ground, but the integrity possible in all work is left undone.

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