I was in the backyard, doing the most thankless and degrading of tasks that dog owners everywhere sign up for. We have a young dog with a penchant for eating inappropriate items and an assortment of children who don’t pick up after themselves, so the activity is part waste-reduction initiative and part scavenger hunt (purple crayon, two Lego heads, in case you were curious). Naturally, I texted my husband to ensure (1) I received appropriate credit for this vile labor and (2) to share the twisted amusement that, until now, I didn’t think I could share with another human.
“There’s got to be a good blog post in that!” he quipped.
I’m sorry, but it did start the wheels turning. This is what else my foray into the backyard produced for me:
1) Everything that has an upside, has a downside. I love that canine. We all get so much love, affection, and entertainment out of him. But then there’s the backyard duty, and the hair, and the time he threw up rocks in my office. Can I be grateful for the cuddly canine and his undying devotion while also accepting the other part of that bargain? Just like bad days have silver linings, all that glitters is not gold – sometimes it’s a Lego head embedded in fecal matter. We may desire roses without thorns and people without failings and jobs without challenges, but…it ain’t gonna happen. You have to know your algebra. What is the x you are solving for? Some of those inputs aren’t always pluses – you have to focus on the overall net worth of what you are aiming for and be willing to tolerate the negatives.
2) What goes in, must come out. Legos in, Legos out. Junk food in, junk out. Feed your emotions on desire, you get more desire, not satisfaction. Our minds are amazing, fascinating, mysterious machines with vast computing power – and yet if you put drivel in, you will get drivel out. What we feed our minds on approximates the average of what it produces. What do you read, watch, or think about daily? With whom do you spend your time? Letting your mind forage deeply, broadly, and richly produces more and better ideas! Don’t dumb yourself down by only reading blog posts about dog poop.
3) Inspiration is everywhere. So maybe you don’t want to graze on a steady diet of taco bell and reality TV, or even a steady diet of 17th century literature. But all parts of our human experience have the potential to inspire us if we let them. Challenge yourself to imagine that every single mundane event has a lesson for you, and it will. I never would have thought I would be threading together this many words as a result of a backyard cleanup duty. Every experience we have has the potential to inspire and excite us if we let it. Creativity and innovation are the result of curious minds turning over regular old rocks.
4) Sharing is caring. We all sometimes have to do things we don’t like to do – boring, disgusting, joyless tasks. Someone has to do them, after all. Sometimes we do them because if you don’t, someone else has to. Sharing burdens is a caring act. Sometimes it’s menial labor, sometimes it’s listening to a friend on the phone for hours when you’ve had a crummy day yourself. At work, it may mean pitching in on activities outside of your job’s scope to help a colleague. When it’s the leader rolling up her her sleeves to do some of the dirty work, you bet that’s going to get noticed. If you want to show you care, there is nothing that’s “beneath you.”
A challenge: Go about the rest of your day, looking for something unmentionable or mundane from which to gain insight. And bring it back to share in a comment – after all, sharing is caring!
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