When you force things they tend to break !

  • 10 February, 2011

I said in the January Naturescaping blog that I would like to look at some of the guidelines that I try to work with when working on the land. Last time I spoke of ‘effort’. This time I would like to start with ‘force’.

I believe that it is Newton’s third law of motion that gives us the well known premise that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. I have this theory tucked away somewhere in my mind when I enter a garden. In fact I carry this around with me a lot, for although I cannot really purport to understand the physical law, I do feel that with most things, if you force them they tend to break. This can be anything from the nut that won’t come off the bolt, that if not done properly and patiently with the correct tool will almost inevitably end up with either the nut being rounded off or the taking off of the skin of  your knuckles.

Or that the tapping over and over of a key on the computer when it won’t respond doesn’t tend to end in a satisfactory resolution, more likely in your continued and heightened frustration that, once it has led to the thought of throwing the damn thing out of the window, most people realise that that probably wouldn’t be the best course of action under the circumstances and go and have a cup of tea instead.

What I’m getting at is that when we force things, they tend to break.

At the risk of being profound, this can in my opinion, happen when you try to force someone to try and think the way that you do, leading to any manner of conflict.

It is this that I take into the garden with me, the thought that when we use excessive force we have stopped listening.

When working with the land and that which is rooted in the earth there can be a temptation to think that because we are sentient we know what is right. We can go in there a bit gung-ho and then when a plant doesn’t yield immediately to our will get agitated, frustrated or angry.

In my opinion it is not really our right to be masters of the land and so one of my guidelines is “Don’t bring anger into the garden” this in my opinion extends to the wider and larger land as a whole, the moving of land, the suffocating it with concrete, the chipping away at it and digging the goodness out of it. From the smallest of interactions with the earth, we tend not to work with it as a partner and a resource as would our ancestors, but seek to dominate it.

I am in no way trying to be pious, judgemental or to set myself up as an example, I am in this blog trying to explain the feelings and thoughts that arise for me whilst I go about my work. I do not have the answers, save to say, maybe take some time when the occasion should arise that you are interacting with plants or the land to endeavour to study yourself and to see if you feel heavy handed, impatient or careless.

Cheers, A.