Chopping Wood

Being Happiness - Chopping Wood

I love this (I found it again in The Snow Leopard, a beautiful book about wandering paths, and The Path, in the Himalayas):

How wondrous, how mysterious!
I carry fuel, I draw water.

P’ang Chu-shih – Layman P’ang

It’s the perfect Zen idea that all the wonder of the universe is available to us in the most simple actions – if we just stop and look!

This week I’ve been stopping and chopping wood. I have a bit of free time at the moment and find that I’m drawn endlessly to surfing the net – and though I haven’t been on the computer for more than two hours a day, surfing the net makes me ‘nervioso‘ as the Spanish say – anxious, stressed, and drains me quickly of body heat.

Perhaps I’ve overdone it over the past 8 or so years of heavy net-based work, and I’m burnt out.

So I go down into the garden and chop wood. How wondrous, how mysterious! This simple mechanical action fills me with happiness (and warms me up), and makes me wonder how I can turn my life further in this direction. The internet is increasingly unfulfilling. Reality is a joy!

Soon I’ll have chopped up all the wood from the pine trees I cut back outside the house this week. We thought about cutting more back, to get more light into the house, but I don’t think I can do it, as there are blackbirds and a family of blue- or great-tits that feed and roost in them. I can’t take away more of their habitat with the excuse that we, 3 humans, need more light.

So I’ll look for other everyday manual activities that make me equally happy.

Washing up, sweeping leaves – how wondrous, how mysterious! – Why not?

Being Happiness - Chopping Wood

4 thoughts on “Chopping Wood

  1. Good stuff – thanks for sharing Ben.

    I cut timber on Saturdays (weather dependent of course here in Ireland!) and it gives a great sense of fulfillment after another week spent in the office.

    You need to be a little careful though – this ancient task of providing warmth for the family could be addictive 🙂


    1. It is indeed a little addictive! We have hot weather here again now, and I’m looking forward to it getting gold again so I can light the fire!


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