Working like Sheep

1 minute read

I have a friend who hearkens from the heartland of America, and is thus more schooled than I in the cosmic truths to be found on a farm. We were discussing the relative dimness of various farm animals, and he mentioned that sheep were pretty much the stupidest animals around. I asked why, and he said that a lamb, when confronted with a meadow full of tall grass, will eat through the grass, leaving a 1-lamb-wide path behind them. When the lamb is full, however, it is faced with a horrible situation. Walls of grass surround it on the front and the sides. After looking left and right in a panic, the lamb will start to bleat piteously, hoping for someone to rescue it from its plight, eventually sitting down to wait until it’s hungry again so that it can extend the path further. I’m not sure how true the story is, but it makes for a compelling mental image.

I was having lunch with my friend Eugene yesterday, and we started talking about my last post on making space, and about the sheep analogy, and I realized that in fact the two are very related. I frequently find myself in a position where I am trying to solve a difficult problem. The more I push, the more the answer eludes me, but I have this underlying fear that if I break away and come back to the problem with fresh eyes, I’ll lose the context I’ve worked so hard to achieve. The reality is that I’m just like the lamb. The answer I need will only be clear when I back up. The context I’ve built up is *broken*, which is why I’m not finding the answer.

I spent a lot of yesterday working like a lamb, pounding my head against a problem which turned out to be fairly simple to solve after I returned from lunch. Chastised by the universal forces, I meekly turned off the computer at 5 so that my brain cells could recharge before I tackle the next problem this morning.