The Art of Removing the Right Things

Some metaphors feel so clichéd that you avoid making use of them – even if they are true to the core.

Gardening has been likened to many phenomena. Programming may be like gardening.

Picking the best ideas to guide your work and life may be.

Once the first of them appeared out of nothing. A small seedling in a random space in the garden. Looking like ordinary grass, superficially, but more symmetric. I let it grow to observe what it will morph into. It became a flower with exquisite yellow blossoms.

The blossoms turned into radiant golden balls of seeds in autumn, fragile spherical spaceships built from myriads of delicate little darts.

And now they are everywhere.

Everywhere, where I allow them to grow. They are allowed and encouraged to puncture the underground seal of the pseudo-sealed pseudo Zen garden.

You just need to remove other plants that make a feeble attempt at competing with the yellow ones.

This is not work. It rather is, meditation. It is a metaphor.

You carefully and mindfully look at all the guests in your garden – which ones might be able to fend for themselves? Which ones are aesthetically pleasing (albeit in a way diverging from the usual standards of horticulture)?

Your standards may change and evolve. In the mid of the pandemic, I wanted to see The Red. Wild poppy was invited, and it has invaded the garden since.

This is low-maintenance gardening, the stage after giving up on cultivating vegetables that require intensive watering in our dry climate. You need to wield the scythe as farmers do – twice a year – and not use it as a lawn mower replacement. It looks like birds and insects appreciate it.

You can look at life, work, and business from the same vantage point, asking similar questions:

Which ideas are likely to grow organically,
requiring only negligible help and nudging?

What else should be cut back, removed, and discarded instead?

Does removing needless things feel like duty,
like an ordeal, and like work,
or does it feel natural and easy?

What is worthwhile to pursue – what is beautiful –
if you apply your very own definition of worth and beauty
instead of following the standard protocols
and comply with the definition you believe the majority uses?

At the beginning, The Land of Work may be barren desert or a messy jungle. Then you start gently removing the right things, and watch the other things grow – the ones that were just bestowed upon you.

You just need to accept the gift, humbly, and treat it with respect.

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