Attitude is the Key

20150512_152600
rebuilt wall

Last fall, I started working on a new project.  I live on the side of Beacon Hill in Seattle and my front yard slopes down, both south to north and west to east.  That means that rain water always flows towards the house.  I decided that it would be better to level off the land and in so doing create garden beds where I could plant flowers and vegetables.

To that, I brought home load after load of bricks, and with my level and shovel in hand, I began to build walls. The bricks are loose, but I staggered them in a way that they stayed standing.  When all of the walls are finished, I will have four large garden beds.

During the winter, I noticed some of the bricks were shifting and the walls had begun to sag.  I assumed it was because the dirt underneath was settling.  Also bricks have been bumped, children have moved them, people have even sat or stood on them! The structures still functioned well as garden beds but didn’t look as nice as they did originally.

Two weeks ago, I started to work on the project again.  I continued building new walls but also rebuilt some of the old ones.  (Since the bricks are loose I can do that as often as I need to.)  Before long, I discovered that settling land and human actions were not the only reason for the sagging walls.

800px-ScalopusAquaticus
Photo Credit: Wikimedia

Moles had been burrowing under the brick walls and the area was full of their tunnels!  That, of course, had caused the walls to become uneven.  I knew I wasn’t going to kill the moles, so what would I do?

I believe that in most cases we are responsible for our own happiness and that attitude makes a huge difference in creating one’s happiness.  I knew this was a situation where my attitude would be very important.  I was also aware that it is often easier to say that I will change my attitude than it is to do it..

A few years ago, when I was grumbling about mole holes, a gardening friend of mine told me that moles provide free aeration for our yards.  That information really helped me to change my attitude.

So yesterday, as I rebuilt the walls, I focused on:

 Thank you moles for providing aeration to my garden.

Thank you moles for providing aeration to my garden.

Thank you moles for providing aeration to my garden.

Thank you moles for providing aeration to my garden.

Thank you moles for providing aeration to my garden.

Thank you moles for providing aeration to my garden.

Thank you moles for providing aeration to my garden.

Thank you moles for providing aeration to my garden.

Thank you moles for providing aeration to my garden.

As I was writing this post, it occurred to me that my project will also teach me about impermanence.  This wall is not built in a way that it will stand forever.  It will always need to be adjusted, and maybe some day it will be taken down completely.  Reflecting on that reality led me to think of the Buddhist monks who build beautiful mandalas out of sand.  Once the mandalas are finished, the monks ritualistically dismantle them.  They do that to acknowledge that life is transient, in a constant state of flux.

Mandala_zel-tary
Photo credit: Wikimedia

Thank you moles for giving me a lesson in impermanence.

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27 thoughts on “Attitude is the Key

  1. I love the reflection here on the impermanence our “work.” Two things came to me as I was reading your article.

    1. Was my memory of the structures that were built and burned when I was at BurningMan in 2003.

    2. A Tao saying “Work is done, then forgotten. Therefore it lasts forever.”

    I am glad to make things that do not last. And I am also grateful for the moles.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You have probably seen the movie, Samsara? Amazing photography, amazing soundtrack, no talking… just a visual/audio meditation on impermanence. Opens with the monks making the mandala, and closes with them dismantling… amazing

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t think I’ve seen it. I did watch the monks building one many years ago though. If I remember right it was at the University of Washington, although I’m not sure about that.

      Like

  3. I admire your positivity and your being in tune with nature. I haven’t seen a real mandala but from the photo, it looks similar to a rangoli, except that the mandala is much more complex.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Karuna,

    I have to tell you this story. One day many years ago there was a knock on my door. It was neighbor Yvonne. She said, “I have done something very bad, and I would like to apologize.” I thought ok, this might be interesting. She went on to say that she had prayed that the moles in her yard would move to my yard. They did in fact appear to leave her yard and show up in mine. What’s funny, is that I have always liked moles because they are so industrious and they “do” aerate the soil. I told Yvonne this and she seemed very relieved. This year the moles especially like pushing up the earth and wood chips on my backyard stairs.

    I don’t feel the same way about rats…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I liked your post! Yes, it’s all about attitude! I agree…I love it when my writing takes on a life of its it own and I wind up in a completely different place than I originally intended. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. When I got to your blog I realized I had been there before. I think I had visited right after you graduated. You have done a very nice job in developing it. Congratulations on that and on your graduation.

        Liked by 1 person

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