Mistakes are part of the fun

- through Francois Leclercq

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I recently completed a project I've been working on for quite a while: I built a greenhouse. I want this to last a long time, so I opted for my own design instead of relying on one of the countless "build a greenhouse in a day" YouTube videos that are so common.

I built a gravel foundation so I can water my plants without worrying about where the water will drain. I framed the walls as I would a house, placing two by fours at 16 inch intervals and using diagonal bracing to reinforce the walls.

I added windows to the east and west facing walls so I could provide good air circulation in the summer and put a 12 inch slope on the roof so water and snow fall easily in bad weather.

I admit that once finished, I felt more than satisfied with myself. It has been solidly built with plenty of space for future crops and seedlings. I thought I had thought of everything.

Then we had our first big windstorm.

A greenhouse works by allowing sunlight to penetrate through the walls, thereby accumulating radiant energy which serves to maintain the temperature in the greenhouse 10 to 20 degrees above the average outside temperature.

Naturally, this requires that the walls be made of a material that allows light to pass through easily. For my greenhouse, I chose to wrap the sides in 10 mil plastic, stapling it to the wooden frame to hold it in place.

Unfortunately, the staples weren't strong enough to hold the plastic to the frame in the face of the 80-mile-per-hour wind gusts we experienced that day, and when I went to check the greenhouse, I noticed that the plastic was starting to come out of the roof!

So I had to get a ladder and some tools to quickly reattach it before the roof came off completely. I ended up covering the entire edge of the roof with scrap two-by-fours I had in the barn and nailing the plastic under the wood.

The reason the plastic started to come loose from the roof is because the staples have a small surface area.

They held the plastic to the greenhouse frame without issue in good weather. But during a storm, when the plastic moves and flaps, the small surface area of ​​the staples causes the plastic to tear.

But two-by-fours have a much larger surface area, and they do a better job of preventing the plastic from moving in the wind, which prevents it from tearing off the greenhouse frame.

Honestly, I felt exhilarated in the moment; climb a ladder in the face of strong winds to be able to fight against the elements. However, in the days that followed, I felt a little annoyed with myself: “Of course, staples wouldn't be enough to hold the plastic in,” I said to myself. “I should have seen it coming.” »

And then I started thinking about all the other things that “I should have seen coming” when I started this farm. An abbreviated list:

1. I should have known cabbage moths would attack my lettuce and cabbage plants

2. I should have known Japanese beetles would try to eat my corn plants

3. I should have known that chickens stop laying eggs in winter

As I went through the list of things I "should have known" before learning them, I realized that if I had really tried to learn everything there was to know about construction, construction culture food and animal care before starting this project, I could never have started it.

The only thing I can do is do my best, learn as much as I can, and be ready to adapt when the proverbial windstorm tries to ruin my best plans.

In Buddhism we are warned that greed is a cause of suffering. Normally this is understood as a greed for wealth and status. But we can also be hungry for knowledge. We may mistakenly believe that we must know everything and not make mistakes.

But if we live our lives this way, we will suffer from “analysis paralysis,” unable to do or try new things because of our fear of failure. This results in our minds being filled with fear and anxiety as we fail to do things “exactly right”.

And that is the opposite of what the Buddha wanted for us. On the other hand, if we are able to smile and accept that mistakes are a normal part of our journey, we can work creatively to find solutions and enjoy the learning process through our daily activities.

And the more we learn, the better we become at ending suffering for ourselves and others.

Namu Amida Butsu

photo of author

Francois Leclercq

François Leclercq is the founder of Buddhist News, a website which aims to disseminate information and practical advice on Buddhism and spirituality. François Leclercq was born and raised in Paris. He studied Buddhism at the University of Paris-Sorbonne, where he graduated in social sciences and psychology. After graduating, he devoted himself to his passion for Buddhism and traveled the world to study and learn about different practices. He notably visited Tibet, Nepal, Thailand, Japan and China.

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