At the plant nursery where I once worked two people were working at the same job: dead-heading flowers from the hanging baskets. The blue-haired boy set up a work station for himself with the plants suspended at a comfortable height so he could turn and tilt them easily. With his setup he could efficiently work through the greenhouse and get a sense of accomplishment by seeing how many pots he got done.
The Earth-mother wandered through the greenhouse, pausing by any plant that caught her attention and picking at it until it looked nice again. She was in conscious relationship with each plant as she worked on it, and her sense of accomplishment came from grooming a plant until it looked its very best.
Both of them derived enjoyment from a job I didn’t have a handle on. (Yeah, I know. How hard is it to dead-head plants? I understand the concept . . .) They both did beautiful jobs. Was one approach better than the other? Not that I could see.
There were other jobs I felt more comfortable with. Keeping the benches tidy and stocked, for instance. Helping customers, even trimming the topiaries. I admit I was a bit afraid the first time I did that (for fear of wrecking the shape), but no one else was doing it and the poor plants were looking scruffy.
I realized that an argument could be made that topiary trimming and dead-heading could be seen as the same kind of task. Maybe so. Still I found the one easier to contemplate than the other.
Still, each of the three of us (and each of our myriad co-workers) was doing the jobs we were best at while contributing our mites to the success of the nursery.
Working at the nursery and seeing all of these different approaches to the work that needed to be done began to change my ideas of right and wrong. It began to change my understanding of the differences among people.
I was, frankly, judgmental. If other people disagreed with me or took other approaches than the ones I valued, I condemned them smugly. But at the garden store I became aware of a sneaking gratitude that there were other people willing (even happy) to do the jobs I wanted to avoid. And to balance things out, there were jobs I enjoyed doing that made others crochety (my boss hated talking to customers!).
As I’ve gone on through life, I’ve noticed that the pattern is willing to unfold everywhere if I’m willing to let it. I wish I’d figured it out sooner, but maybe part of the blessing is the experience of figuring it out.