Thursday, June 12, 2008
Tactical rhubarb and mint
Not only do I have a master in religious studies, I'm a trained project manager too. Being a project manager I have a big favourit in Sun Zi. Now, you may ask what a general have to do with project management, and escpecially what he has to do with gardening.
Well, Sun Zi wrote down some of his knowledge in a small book called "the Art of War" (I own the comic version...). Two pieces of advice are seemingly contradictory; he thought careful planning to be necessary, otherwise all would be lost to the enemy. On the other hand he says that war is unpredictable, things that seems safe changes in microseconds, and you have to be "as versatile as water". In other words you need a plan you can turn around at the drop of a hat. This may sound difficult, and there are a reason the name of Sun Zi (several of them, actually) are remembered two and a half millenium later.
Yesterday was one of those days when I had to 'turn' my plans so often I pirouetted through life. An injury in my arm made me turn down weeding on the allotment for the choice of a watering session and then some paperwork indoors. Some fresh mint I spotted hiding in the middle of some nettle rugs proved too tempting (of course I'd brought gloves in case I'd need to stand heads down into stinging plants) as well as some rhubarb leaves, so I changed paperwork to handling a small harvest. The fact I couldn't tip the rinsing bowl to change waters made me siphon the water into a carboy for use on the balcony garden. I forgot that the buses has change timetable and missed my ride, but I stayed at the station since it seemed unusually crowded. Apparently the busdriver had forgot the new timetable too, and picked us all up in 'wintertime'.
This could have been the day when nothing worked; a hurting arm, loads of weeding to do and a missed bus. Instead this was a day when I gained a lot; some more lovely mint tea, some groundcover for the container with the cherry tree (I planted some mint roots I mistakenly dug up there), about a litre of frozen rhubarb, the warm and fuzzy feeling of being environmentally friendly when I saved water, and a miraculous catch up at the bus station. Eventhough few of these things went according to the original plan, few of them are entirely coincidences. Buy keeping an eye on my alternatives to the original plan I was able to change actions fast. I did also keep an eye on possible bonuses that may be the outcome, and geared myself to be ready to grab them (but only for them - I didn't carry any unnecessary tools).
As I write this I realise that my life doesn't seem to be the daily struggle it is. But I have to admit it's become more fun ever since I really learned to think
"Obstacles, hm, how can I turn this situation to my advantage?"
and use Sun Zis advice in a creative way.