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Monday, May 19, 2014

Making Progress

Outside, nature is making progress. It does not stand still. I go for a walk every day after lunch, and every day I spot changes. The dogwoods have lost their showy petals that are merely bracts. The green cherries are getting bigger. The tulip tree blossoms have opened, and flies and wasps, bumble bees and smaller bees all are congregating there to get something they like, something that is available for free, there for the picking. Are all those insects there to work, toiling for their keep, or are they there just to have fun? It is hard to tell. But one thing is for sure:  they are making progress. Whatever their goals are, they are being furthered by all this activity.

Bow goes out and sits on the bench and observes what is going on, and he is sometimes active and sometimes passive, and it is hard to say what progress he is making. I am finishing up a project. Soon my new novel will be out, Theodosia and the Pirates: The War Against Spain.  Does Bow know about it? Sure, he does. I read him scenes out loud. If they are too emotional, he gets upset. I show him the different versions of the book trailer.

I am making progress with my current project. The birds and the bees and the flowers are making progress with their projects outside.  But what about Bow? Is he making progress? It is sometimes hard to tell, but I think that he is.

After he watched the trailer of my book, he selected another related video to watch.

He sat and watched the video quietly.

Bow has resisted using his touchscreen computer, because he sees that as work. I have not been forcing the issue and neither has Lawrence. If you let him have at the touchscreen, he just finds some way to disable it by touching way too many things all at once in random order. But see how deliberately he left-clicks on my worn out mousepad.

If we watch too closely, it seems as if everything is standing still, and we are making no progress. But in reality, every day brings a progression of new things. It's easy to miss, unless you step back for a moment and get some perspective. I like this post by Julie Deneen about how we can have more than one ball in the air and it does not matter if everything we work on comes to full fruition and just the way we planned.

We don't have to be working all the time like toilers in the field, deliberately bringing every project to  a close. Sometimes seeds plant themselves, sometimes they germinate on their own, sometimes mighty trees grow from little saplings. Come walk with me and see how many trees are growing in Bow's pasture that were not there before!


  1. I love how observant you are of the nature of things around you, Aya! I think you have a very fortunate life. It is very hard to lose perspective on the progress of all things if we don't stop & look!
    I find your comment interesting about Bow and his not wanting to work. Are chimpanzees just lazy by nature?

    1. Thanks, Kathy. I do feel pretty lucky most of the time.

      As for chimpanzees being lazy, it depends on our definition of lazy and of work. I think that Bow is tireless in doing what he feels motivated to do. But he does not like to be externally motivated and will not do things because others want him to, even for a reward. The trick is to find an activity that is so internally rewarding that he will keep at it.