Chop wood, carry water

I stumbled upon this sentence the other day. Apparently it’s a famous old Zen-saying. “Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.” And I take it as advice to focus on the process, not the results. If we just focus on our running and our breathing – the finish line will come.

It’s a piece of advice I’ve seen in many forms. Focus on on the verb, not the noun. Just do the work.

Another saying I remind myself of is “work gets done in the time available”. It’s all the time we’ve got, so if anything is to be achieved that’s what we need to use. I’ve often wished for myself to have more time for my creative endeavours, but it has often shown that once given days of free time I’m often not in the mood/position to make use of it.

I find it comforting to know that in creative work/art/ five minutes on fire can outdo weeks. So for 2021 I need to make the most of the “loose minutes” that can be found every hour. A quick strum, a few jotted words.

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