Which do you eat first on your plate: the nicest bits and then leave the less tasty until the end? Or do you save the best food until last? How you eat your food may say a great deal about your approach to life. I was wondering whether our food order preference could reveal whether we have a tendency to procrastinate in our life. I can definitely remember as a child that I put the food I didn't like to one side of the plate and concentrated on the good stuff. Eventually however, I was forced to face the food that was not my favorite, not so enjoyable! This habit has now been reversed as an adult and I leave the best bits until last.
I thought about this principle again in the weekend in another context. Alan and I were out in the back garden on Saturday where there is quite a forest of trees. Over the years in successive storms, limbs have fallen off, whole trees have crashed and the floor of the forest is littered with logs hidden under the very thick carpet of fallen leaves. I had begun to drag some of the logs into one corner of the forest for eventual disposal when I kept getting struck by masses of brambles that attached themselves to my legs and arms. They were all over the ground and then they had created a curtain as they climbed up some of the living trees. I had a decision to make. Either I continued to drag those logs through the obstacles or I stop and take care of the brambles first. The brambles didn't seem as fun as the logs. They were a twisted, horrible mess of prickly vines. I made the decision that the brambles had to go so that I had an obstacle free path to achieving the rest of the work.
I was right in that it was not a fun experience with my scratched arms and lower legs evidencing that the brambles put up quite the fight. There is still more to do to clear them completely but by the end of the day there was a real sense of accomplishment as I saw the obstacles begin to melt before my clippers.
There was also some sense of team work that came into play as Alan suggested we work on them together. We pulled the brambles out of the trees first and then Alan pulled them away from me with the rake so that I was able to cut at the roots quickly. In the end the very defense mechanism of the bramble became its own means of destruction. Once the roots were cut, it was easy to pull all the brambles out with the rake because they became entangled in their own thorns. Working like this enabled us to speedily clear a large section and it looked great afterward.
It is interesting that in life we often seem to come across obstacles in our life and we do all we can to avoid dealing with them. Our society tells us to play hard, enjoy life at full speed, self-satisfaction is king. More than ever before I believe that people are looking for the easy way out so that obstacles can be avoided or at least we put off dealing with them. Addictions are one example where we put off dealing with the obstacles or the difficult bits in our life. ‘Let’s numb out and focus on the fun bits rather than confronting our challenges head on’.
Like the brambles however, the longer that we leave certain challenges the more difficult that they become. What started out as a few minor difficulties in the beginning can end up being one large tangled mess that is hard to unravel. Relationship problems between family members, for example, often grow in significance if not attended to as soon as possible. I have witnessed so many people seek help for their relationship issues once the entangled mess is just too large to manage and they are being wounded at every turn. How much easier it would have been to have attacked the problems when they were small.
I also learned something else from my bramble encounter. It is so much easier to deal with challenges in our life when we enlist the help of someone else, when we work as a team to resolve them: someone in our community circles, a friend, a parent, a family member, a spouse. Facing challenges with someone makes the job that much easier and frankly so much more fun.