The gentle art of Refining

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Yesterday I had some time to replant a front strip of our garden. We had planted a really tasty border of plants that were fragrant and colorful. Yet we noticed over time that this bit of the garden didn’t relate to the rest of the garden plantings. While lovely, it felt disembodied from the whole. So we decided to move things around and replant it. And this sense of redoing and refining over time feels like a neglected art in life.

So often we are told about creative endeavors that seem to happen like a lightbulb flashing on. Yet for me there is a real joy in treating all of life as a work in progress. When I do strategic planning with clients my foundational belief and vision is to ‘have a plan and hold it lightly’. This sounds so simple and almost mundane. Yet we so often get invested in the sunk costs of so many aspects of our lives. A project. A relationship. And maybe most powerfully, ways of thinking.

With the garden we had a plan and implemented it and then noticed over time that one bit didn’t feel quite right. In the old days I may have kept the garden how it was given the time and money we invested in that plan. But it is so freeing to realize most anything can change, and with an open mind, often for the better. So we stayed open for some new perspectives and ideas to emerge and when they did, we redid this bit of the garden. And it feels better and more related and more coherent and we like it better. And we found places for the initial plants that also feels better and fills in some gaps we had very nicely.

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