It’s wet and windy all over the country and no less so than down here in Brighton. The sea chucks pebbles onto the promenade and the council (presumably) sends a guy down with a digger to push them back onto the beach. The sea chucks them back again in the next storm and out the digger comes again. In some ways it seems like a bit of a waste of resources, especially bearing in mind the forecast.
There is a lot of work that is like this: cleaning the house, making the beds, cutting the hedge, sweeping roads, weeding the vegetable patch, washing up – things that needs doing and then doing again. On one level all these jobs can seem pointless. But for most of us, there is pleasure in a clean house and a straightened duvet (every now and again) even if we know it won’t last.
As I watched this digger it made me think about the work we do for ourselves. Some things we learn once. Someone shows us how to crack an egg and we mostly don’t need showing again; the same with riding a bike (though as I’ve discovered having recently joined a cycle club there’s a bit more to it than I originally thought). We learn to read and write and generally don’t need to go back to basics. But other lessons we have to repeat over and over. How to be kind to others, how to be kind to ourselves, how to empty our mind of noisy thoughts, how to accept and notice rather than rail and reject; how to remember we can only control our reaction, not that other person’s behaviour. How to be present.
We are all works in progress, and the older I get the more I appreciate teachers – in the form of children, neighbours, partners, friends, psychotherapists, coaches, bosses or interns. Sometimes we will be learning lessons we’ve heard before, sometimes it will be something new, that will itself become something we have to learn again. It’s good to clear the promenade, even if just in time for another storm.