Elizabeth Gilbert in Eat, Pray, Love describes meditation as the experience of trying to tame a Monkey Mind. Your brain naturally wanders effortlessly between one distraction and the next like a monkey swinging through the trees. She also points out that the mind is a lot better off if you give it something to do rather than tell it what not to do. So she describes the need to focus on breath or a mantra while meditating as it keeps the monkey occupied. It is like asking the monkey to move 10000 buttons from one pile to another.
As part of the process of building a new packing and storage shed for our vegetables, a large pile of stones was delivered before the shed was up. This meant that we were in charge of moving the stones once the shed was built. We have no front loader on our tractor and no backhoe type thingie to do the job. We have a small scraping blade that fits on the back of our tractor, but with the soft sand the blade was not working well for moving the stones.
So the monkey had her pile of buttons.
Day one had the monkey loading 25 shovelfuls of stones into a wheel barrow and carting 20 loads to the back of the shed.
Day three arrived and more help was offered. Although this time it was from a 3 year old boy that insisted that the stones were moved with a tractor. The monkey took time out of her wheelbarrow and shovel work to help the boy hook a wagon onto his peddle tractor and use this to cart stones. The wheelbarrow works much better, said the monkey. But the boy said that using the tractor was more fun.
How many times had the monkey noticed in her short farming career that more time (and money) was spent repairing or tinkering with a piece of equipment than it would have taken to do the job with manual labour? The monkey’s husband had once had horses to do heavy work and although they needed less repair than a tractor, the upkeep and cost grew unmanageable. This is a shame, because the monkey sure wishes she had those horses now.
Anyway, the monkey kept on with her loads of stones.
The girls counted the number of stones in a shovelful. 475.
475 stones in a shovel, 30 shovelfuls per load, 70 loads.
1,000,000 buttons. But who's counting?