Systems Thinking II:
My Summer Vacation

This summer was the summer of brush clearing.
And more.

It started as simple exercise. After a day or two, scratches from head to toe, and enjoyment, I set myself a goal of clearing a little space to get a better view of one of the farm ponds. That revealed something else. … to my surprise.

At a casual dinner, I sat next to a landscaper, and we got to talking about our farm and my skills with clipper, saw, etc.

In particular, she suggested that I do some clearing around a few of our big boulders. Intrigued, I set about clearing, on our main trail, around a couple of said boulders. I was amazed at the result.

That, in turn, led to attacking some dense brush and brambles around some barely visible rocks that had always intrigued me—which led to “finding,” in effect, a great place for a more or less “Zen garden,” as we’ve taken to calling it.

Which led to … more and more. And more.

(Especially a rock wall, a hundred or so yards long, that is a massive wonder—next year I’ll move up the hill behind it—I can already begin to imagine what I’ll discover, though my hunch will be mostly “wrong,” and end up leading me somewhere else.)

(Yesterday, 4+ exhausting hours clearing around another rock-boulder—that just a month or so ago I could never have imagined messing with.)

To make a long story short:

I now have a new hobby—this winter I’ll do a little, but I also plan to read up on outdoor spaces, Zen gardens, etc; visit some rock gardens-spaces close by; and, indeed, concoct a more or less plan (rough sketches) for next spring’s activities—though I’m sure that what I do will move forward mostly by what I discover as I move forward. (This is at least a 10-year project—it could readily go on past my ability to cut down trees of size.)

I proceeded by trial and error and instinct, and each experiment led to a greater understanding of potential—the “plan,” though there was none, made itself. And it was far, far better (more ambitious, more interesting) than I would have imagined.

I was able to do much more than I’d dreamed—overall, and project by project.

Not that it matters, but my “skill” has skyrocketed—though I’ve kept to my promise of only hand tools; that’s the spirit of the affair, and the slower pace reveals more, among other things.

Along the way I managed to lose about 10 pounds—while eating garden grown stuff like a pig.

“Systems thinking”? It would have killed the whole thing.

Is “everything connected to everything else”? Well, duh. But I had no idea how everything was connected to everything else until I began (thank you, Michael Schrage—see my last Post) “serious play.”

Tom Peters posted this on October 1, 2007, in Strategies.
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