I’ve always thought of myself as a patient person. I’m rarely one to give in to road rage, or growling at customer service, or eye rolling when my line isn’t going fast enough. I enjoy cooking dinners with multiple steps that take longer to cook than to eat, I’m delighted to fantasize with my g’babies for hours about the clouds or the stars or fairies. When my clients are needing to move slowly, I can easily empathize and feel no need to set the pace. However, there is one area that I’m especially impatient. I like to see the results of my work.
This immediate gratification comes in many of the things I really love doing. Painting a room or writing a story. Cleaning the kitchen (actually that’s my least favorite chore, but I see immediate results). Many DIY home and landscaping projects reward me with an immediate satisfaction for what I’ve done. Perhaps that’s why I gravitate towards the activities that I choose. But, none give me as much pleasure and instant gratification as mowing my lawn.
My yard is 5 acres. It’s beautiful and park-like. And when it’s not mowed, it’s a daunting visual, but when it’s mowed it’s lovely. The mowing part itself is easy because I just ride around on my little machine and get some sun. But, the satisfaction of looking back over the strip I’ve previously mowed, compared to the next one, is strangely satisfying to me.
When my four children were little, as soon as I cleaned a room, they un-cleaned it. As soon as I cleaned the bathroom, someone took a shower or missed the toilet. As soon as I cleaned the kitchen, another meal for six had to be made. I don’t think I ever actually got all the laundry done in those years. No one un-mows my yard behind me.
I can put on my headphones and be in silence with my thoughts. No one is going to interrupt me, or invade my head space. It’s time to me alone, to let my thoughts wander and ponder and go into places that wouldn’t make sense to anyone else. It’s four hours of time to think as I want, listen to music that I want or let my mind meander. That’s not something I get often.
There is something deeply satisfying, to look back on a section of yard and see the immediate change and know it was a result of my willingness to spend my time doing what needs to be done. I like working out. Biking, walking, kayaking, hiking, swimming, but there’s no immediate result I can see. I can feel good about it, but there’s something about the visual of the grass being tall and then being mowed that is powerful to me.
Often, when I’m frustrated with a task, I find it’s because I can’t tell any difference. There is no apparent change. Do you ever feel that way? This is a growth area for me. The long term value of staying with something to get eventual desired results is well worth it. All my schooling, my 31 year marriage, raising my children, planting new little trees that won’t mature for 10 years, all valuable. I focused on the outcome, not the immediate. Our culture says if there is not a desirable, immediate outcome, move on. That’s not the way to live a successful, joyful, satisfying life. Good things take work and time and commitment. There are times when we need to stop and assess and make a change, but be patient and work at it. Give it time. Learn all you can from the experience.
So while I work on being patient and looking at the big picture, I’ll keep getting immediate gratification from my mowing.
Be kind, be grateful, be courageous,