Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Gardener

We imagine that the “simple man” has it figured out. Or at least, doesn't need to figure it out. I don't think I've had that advantage of being a gardener. But I like the idea that one can just take care of their children, even if they are roses.

My wife's grandpa, Grandpa Burgin, was a simple man. He had been a tenant farmer and worked on the railroad. As he became older, he sat in an easy chair and chewed tobacco, spitting it into a repurposed coffee can. And he'd play solitaire, one game after another. His wife, Grandma Stella, would cook and clean. They lived in a little house in a little town. I don't know what they knew of the bigger world.

Once we moved a few hours away and we had them come to our house and visit. Grandpa Burgin would only come if he could work. He spent the day weeding. He worked at a steady pace from dawn to dusk, seemingly never coming up for air.

His son was pretty much the same. Whenever he came to our house, he'd fix something. We raised the stakes for him, though. First it was to add an addition to our house. And then it was to build a large studio, which ended up becoming a second house.

And my grandpa was much the same. When he came to my sister's wedding, he was very antsy. Finally we put him to work painting the outside of our house and he was happy.

The gardener is busy. She works hard. I don't know what she thinks about, but I do know that it takes a lot of focus to garden. My wife does quite a bit of gardening, and she's always focused on the job at hand. Sometimes when I ask her questions about what I'm thinking about, she wisely says, “Does it matter?”

Yesterday we read about Buddhist philosophical meditation, where one examines Buddhist concepts. I'm not quite sure if this varies from philosophical thinking. I do know that Zen people sit more to quiet the stream. The glorification of the simple gardener probably belongs more to Zen than to other branches of Buddhism.

Going back to grandpas and grandmas, if you work hard maybe you don't have time to think cosmic thoughts. The job at hand is so critical. The roses depend upon your attention.

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