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Paul MacCormack


In my last post, Just Enough, I explored the idea that the ethos of authentic links greenkeeping practices might be a path worth studying as we move forward in the age of climate change. As we examine our industry post pandemic, can we simplify and return to the roots of our craft? Can we honestly look at our industry as a whole and begin to ask the difficult questions that are in such dire need of answering? 

As I was writing that last piece, I stumbled across a quote from a teacher of mine; taken from a talk given at a meditation retreat I attended back in 2018.

Is it necessary? Or will a breath suffice?” ~ Jaya Rudgard

This line struck me as being rather profound at the time. So much so that I wrote it down as I sat in the airport waiting for my flight back home. I filed it away and actually forgot about it until recently. 

As I was pondering a theme for this piece, this line came back into my consciousness. It seemed to be in alignment with the questions raised by the previous post, but rooted in a deeper and more personal way. As we ask ourselves the difficult questions from a broader, industry wide vantage point, could we also do a u turn and ask ourselves this question in our own lives? 

This question was initially posed from a mindful inquiry angle. The idea at the retreat was to be able to insert this question into a personal situation one might be experiencing, to discern whether we need to actually follow through on a habitual course of action when the impulse to respond habitually arises. A good example might be inserting one’s opinion into a conversation. 

Is my opinion necessary? Or can I sit back, rest in the moment and just breathe instead? 

Maybe you could pause right now and wonder how this might be a helpful question in your own life. Admittedly, it can be a bit overwhelming to think about how many ways it could be applicable:

  • Do I really need to dress down that employee in front of the rest of the crew? 
  • Is it necessary to stay at work the extra couple of hours? 
  • Do I really need that third beer? 
  • Is it necessary to be on twitter right now? 

The list of possibilities is endless. But, ironically, the answers are often the same. 

There are so many moments in our lives where we run on autopilot and just do what we’ve always done. Habits and habitual response to situations are like that. Responses that have become so ingrained that we just assume that they are simply a part of our personality or even our DNA. They are nothing more or less than neural pathways we have forged in our own brain over time. And wonderfully, they can be changed!

There are so many moments in our lives where we run on autopilot and just do what we’ve always done...

When I feel entangled or trapped by my own habitual responses to the actions of someone in my family or workplace I find it very helpful to remember that I am only a breath away from choosing a different response to any given situation. When I feel powerless, this expansive remembrance is an incredibly empowering one.

Now some of you might be thinking, isn’t choosing to calmly breathe instead of “acting” akin to doing nothing at all? Shouldn’t we be trying to fix the situation? Isn’t that what superintendents, parents, partners, friends and neighbours do? 

Well, in certain circumstances, taking action is the wisest course. You can ask yourself this question and at times answer with a resounding yes! Should I go for a walk? Yes! Might I be more intentional about my self care regimen? Yes!  Should I take the time to listen? Yes! Should I choose kindness? Yes!

Taking a pause and choosing not to react is not an act of negation. You are not choosing to “opt out” and abandon your responsibilities. Instead, you are creating a space for a new, fresh take on a worn out trope. You are opening to the possibility contained within the moment, and giving yourself and others the opportunity to see things in a new light. From this, things may move in a new direction as the space provided by this simple act can move mountains.

Instead, you are creating a space for a new, fresh take on a worn out trope...

As with the difficult questions posed in the last blog post, these internal questions are no more comfortable. In most cases, they are actually even more challenging to navigate. But true personal inquiry is not meant to be comfortable. It’s meant to break down the accepted norms so we can get to the stage where the more sustainable ideas and ways of living in this world together reside. While the work may be challenging, not doing it keeps us trapped in the old pathways of habitual response. 

In closing, remember to frame it all in the context of kindness. As much as possible, apply an abundance of kindness to self and kindness to others.  It helps to soften life’s sharp edges.

Thanks for reading.  Take care, friend!

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