If idle hands are the devil’s workshop; idle lips are his mouthpiece. (Proverbs 16:27)
Voltaire in Candide muses that “tending one’s own garden” keeps us focused on matters at hand. What a joyous thought—having a garden to prioritize—a civilized and productive activity. Of course, being a French Enlightenment philosopher, he meant something well beyond the literal. Essentially, at its core the quote references the value of minding one’s own business, but I’m using it here to emphasize the importance of tending to what is personal and relevant without being distracted by the ever-growing flood of diversions and inferences that inundate us.
The specific quote that inspires Candide’s reflection is uttered by “the good old man” who speaks:
I have no more than twenty acres of ground, the whole of which I cultivate myself with the help of my children; and our labor keeps off from us three great evils—idleness, vice, and want.
Again, what a delightful image. And, after my misspent youth, on the cusp of the beginning of my 56th year, I think it wise to circumvent idleness, vice, and want.
I believe birthdays are a great time to make milestones, make transitions and start new initiatives and adventures, so, after a period of very practical but more mundane undertakings related to relocating, I’ve been able to plan for an re-invigoration—perhaps a gentle tilling—of my naturalist activities.