Friday, January 19, 2007
A Danish Haiku
Much screaming and little
wool, said the woman,
shearing her sow.
Has something ever struck you as so funny that you laughed yourself breathless? This little poem, dubbed A Danish Haiku did that for me today. I know for a fact that at many points in my life, I have diligently sheared the sow, and cursed the fact that her "wool" was more suitable for making a scrub brush than a warm sweater.
It seems to be a human trait. Lots of us, metaphorically, shear the sow when we actually need and want sheep's wool. We consistently use totally inappropriate methods and/or actions - hoping against hope that the act of doing something/anything will work magic and gain our objective. It's as if we were saying, "Hey Universe! Look how hard I'm working and reward my efforts!"
Or we shear the sow because while we say/think we want wool, we really don't, because having wool in the hand means we would have to embark on the long-planned project, which leaves us open to the possibility of failure. Best to look diligent, shear the sow and curse fate that sow's wool is an unsuitable material for spinning our fine dreams.
We sabotage ourselves. We fool ourselves into thinking we're on the road to success, while we wrestle the screaming sow, and with pounding hearts and sweat pouring into our eyes, shear her bristles off. The longer you struggle with the sow the larger and stronger she grows, and the more irritated she gets.
I had this strange phobia when I was in my early 20s. I hated washing dishes. I'd put off washing dishes for three or four days, till every dish in the house was dirty and the counter was loaded. The longer I put it off the bigger the knot in my belly grew, just thinking about it. It kept me anxious and unhappy all the time. Finally some wise person said, "Don't tackle them all at once. Just fill the sinks with water and do only the glasses. Then quit. Later you can do the cutlery. Then quit. Later do just the cups and saucers. Don't do all of the dishes at once, it's too much. Just do one thing. You can do just the one thing."
So I filled the sinks and did just the glasses. But it only took three or four minutes so I went ahead and did the cutlery. But even then I'd only spent six or eight minutes so I did the cups and saucers. Well, you guessed it. Within a half hour all the dishes were done and I felt 100 times better. I learned that I could accomplish a great deal by not allowing myself to become overwhelmed by the scope of the job. I learned that it's better to do the job than worry about doing it. It takes lots less energy.
It's easy to shear a sheep. You get the wool you needed in the first place. It even makes the sheep more comfortable. Everybody wins. The easiest way to get something done is just to do it, not to agonize over it, analyze it, work up to it, or procrastinate over it. Just dive in and get it done. You come up with a double fistful of wool every time.