I’m still trying to find my way forward for a more organized life. It’s not about getting more done, though there’s that. It’s not about “becoming a better me,” though there’s some of that, too. It’s not even about gaining control of my time, which is a bit of a fool’s errand, truth be told. But there does seem to be a felt need at present to be more orderly.
Order and design are built in to the universe, no doubt about it. We live in a “just so” world, in which cosmic measurements such as the distance of our planet from the sun, or the composition of gases in our atmosphere, or the tilt of the planet’s axis, and so on, are so precisely balanced as to defy mathematical odds. If the Creator of the Universe can so balance on a pinpoint the seemingly infinite number of precise ratios, distances, angles, forces, and what not so that life can not only happen but can flourish on our planet, surely little ol’ me can figure out how to complete a list of less than a dozen items on a to-do list, and, at the same time, also be accomplishing those things that are meaningful to me (writing a book, losing weight, playing with my dog, and so forth).
Alas, it is not the case.
Let’s be honest, though, with all the order and design we see in the universe, life is incredible wasteful in its fecundity. Thousands of fish eggs, and most of them will get eaten. Tens of thousands of seeds, but only a small portion will actually grow to maturity and bear fruit. Rabbits multiply progeny in legendary numbers. A single drop of honey on the ground, and a continent of ants will swarm. One might look at all this and say, if God can be so precise on a planetary scale, how is it that things are so . . . seemingly left to chance? All those fish eggs are necessary so that predators don’t devour the species in one generation. But, what if . . . and I’m just spitballing here . . . things were such that one fish, or maybe two or three, were born and made it to maturity, because they had no predators. And not that we would wish away an entire species to save the fish, but let’s say they didn’t eat fish eggs, but had a more bio-diversity sustainable diet?
But once one begins to tinker, even theoretically, one begins to see that all the wasteful fecundity is, itself, a balance of many diverse needs and living things. Man’s tinkering has at times gotten the creation out of balance, and brought harm. Thankfully, we have begun to learn that and have changed some of our ways. We are beginning to see the need for harmony and balance.
That is not to say that creation as it now is needs no human intervention. Indeed, prior to the Fall, God had set the Man and the Woman in Paradise (the Garden) with a job requirement, tend the Garden. This would seemingly need to involve trimming and pruning, perhaps diverting water to the plants further away from the rivers running through Paradise. There was a call to bring order to the Paradise that itself was an ordering of the Deep. And particularly in our fallen world, there is a need to ensure plants and crops grow to their intended purpose, that food might be abundant for humans and all living creatures, and all of that requires we “tend the Garden” and ensure we are not using harmful means and methods to bring order to a fecund world.
And truthfully, that’s what I’m wanting for my life. If one is open to it, the realization hits one every morning on waking: each day is full to the brim and overflowing, how does one bring order, not to chaos but to so much grace? The choice is between seeing the day ahead as an enemy to fight and to bring in to subjection, or to see it as a vibrant and teeming garden which needs a little trimming here, a little watering there. What are the right tools and methods to get that done? How does one bring a precision balance (insofar as one can) to one’s day such that life is affirmed and grows and flourishes?
One has to prioritize one’s activities. The gardener will assess whether the tomatoes need weeded first, or whether she should water the flower pots to begin the day. He will have to assess if it is time to bring in the corn and to ensure he has the time to do it.
One can look at it through the lens of productivity, how much one can get done in one day? How quickly can I reach the goal? But that feels pretty exhausting. There may indeed be a time limit on the harvesting of the beans. But it is not about harvesting the beans, or how many baskets full one can accumulate. Rather, it is seeking harmony with these growing things, responding to some things that are outside of our control, but doing so from a standpoint that it is not widgets we are creating, but life we are sustaining and with which we are cooperating.
There is nothing wasteful in what the day brings. And in ordering our day, we narrow only so as to allow life to flow and to function in the beauty and grace which livens both it and us.
But I still gotta get stuff done. So, I’m still looking for a way of balance and harmony, with responsibility and duty.