Watching the grass grow, 2

Previous: Watching the grass grow

There' something more to it than I said yesterday. I tried to pass it off as something respectable—as some kind of feedback problem that I'm managing, some kind of work that I'm doing, some kind of activity that I am accomplishing.

Look closely: action verbs. For grass.

Yeah... probably not entirely accurate. It's grass.

The thing I meant to say is that I go to a window—upstairs, downstairs, doesn't matter—several times a day to check out... the grass. I'll step outside the garage back door to have a look at... the grass. I'm not doing anything. But I am taking credit for the biological processes taking place in the backyard. (Maybe you've worked with people like this.)

There is an aspect of feedback correction, but it's very low frequency. It's hard to take credit for it, especially when the most difficult thing I have to do is walk around the yard and spin seeds out of this little seed throwing machine. It's an action—there is an act—but it's low effort.

What am I trying to get at here? (An honest question to myself.)

It's a funny thing to take credit for something that you're not really doing. I have these impulses frequently—maybe you do, too, I don't know. When your favorite sports team wins, or your university where you haven't been in ages gets some kind of credit for doing well, or your colleague gets an award, or an aspect of your work project has a breakthrough, and so on and so on—it's hard to take credit for doing those things, but still there's something inside that feels... something. It can't be accomplishment, but it feels like accomplishment. It's tickling the same brain receptors.

Grass in specific, but gardening in general: you can affect where the seeds go, you can affect the shape of the area you plant, you can affect the soil somewhat, you can add water, you can shade the sun—but you can't make a seed grow. There's effort and luck and environment, and then there's all the many variables inside the seed that you can't know (other than in some probabilistic sense). You can envision the outcome—and you should, sometimes that's the best part, before reality disappoints—but you can't know the outcome until the outcome comes out. Until then, I watch and watch and watch—not doing but waiting, patiently and impatiently, for what happens next.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *