I planned to plant two holly trees in my garden. Firstly, I had to dig out the debris of a former house from the ground to make it suitable to plant my trees.
I came upon an iron rod in the hole. A simple process of clearing out a hole for a holly tree turned into a battle. I became obsessed with getting the iron rod out of the hole. I had to widen and deepen the hole, clearing more and more debris, but I could not get the rod out. The hole turned into a trench. I had to smash through concrete the rod was embedded in, and still I could not get it out. It rained; I was dirty and wet. The fight continued over several days. My home was a mess of mud being trailed in.
As another attempt was made towards the end of another day, ripping out another brick to follow the route of the iron rod; I disturbed a nest of mice who had taken up home in the ground. The mother ran out of a hole carrying some of its babies. A baby mouse rolled from another hole inside my trench; pink, blind and lost in the cold wet. The mice were an unexpected discovery, I had not meant to do harm to them. I was distressed that I might have caused the deaths of these creatures by accident. I let nature run its course, and abandoned any further attempt on the iron rod that night.
Next day, the baby mouse was not there. The mouse hole in the side of the trench appeared to be closed up. I suspected the mother had returned, the nest was still active. I was angry at the feelings of empathy and compassion I had for the mice, I hated that part of me. The ugly part of me wanted to destroy the mice just to hurt the empathic part of me, to punish or wipe out something I totally hated.
I had to force myself to back off from this dark madness. My hubris and love of control blinded me to the paradox that I was creating. My garden, my home, was a spirit of place. Me, the mice, the holly trees were all part of the spirit of place, and it was my aim to create a happy fruitful spirit of place, not one of death and suffering. Since I and mice were part of the same spirit of place, to harm one, meant harm to the other. The holly was to enhance the spirit of place; yet, to destroy the mice was to do the exact opposite. It was a crazy situation.
The combination of nature and my humanity defeated me. I lost the Battle of the Iron Rod. I had to acknowledge that nature and the part of me that was distressed for the mice was stronger than the part that loved control. I left the mice alone. I began the process of filling in the trench with layers of leaves and soil. One of the Holly trees was planted. The iron rod is bent so that it is sticking out of the ground, which I will turn into some garden feature.
The Battle of the Iron Rod is a turning point for me, and I am still processing what all this means. In the grand scheme of things, to the outsider, this battles seems insignificant. The battle for me was a major clash between nature, my empathy and my need for control. For a while, a crazy darkness took hold over me, and the end states would have been death (mice) and suffering (me) for what? I missed the reason why I was doing this digging in the first place, to create a happier healthier home. To conceed control to nature and my feelings is no easy situation for me, and to see control is an illusion with cruel dark outcomes is hard to acknowledge too.