"Irwin, do you know why you can't pick your worms before you dig them?" I asked myself if this was a trick question (it probably was) so I answered, "I think so, Sir.
I mean, you can't see your worms until you get them out of the ground...unless you're lucky enough to have one just crawl by." Dharma didn't look very pleased with my answer. He responded, "Yes, that's part of it, but there's much more to it than just seeing them." OK. So I had guessed wrong...again...but by this time I was getting more interested in where this lesson was going.
The wise old teacher went on to explain to me that we can't get our reward without first doing the work. Sometimes, it seems like we can, but when the good stuff is just handed to us, we don't really appreciate it. We have to dig (the work) before getting our reward (finding the worms). Work + reward = satisfaction for a job well-done. Just as I thought that was the end of the lesson, Dharma continued to teach me even more about receiving rewards. Not only can't we enjoy our rewards without doing the work first, he told me, but we can't truly know which worms will yield the sweetest taste just by looking at them. This was getting all too deep for me and I was craving a good worm.
He began to explain."You know, Irwin, as a tadpole you always went after the biggest Christmas present first. You thought because it was the biggest it would, therefore, be the best gift. But was it always?" I mulled over his question and remembered, fondly, many of my early Christmases. And yes, I did always go after the biggest gift first. But then I recalled, that very often the biggest gift was just that...the biggest. The best gift was usually in the smallest box tucked away, hidden deep within the branches of our family Christmas tree. And it was always the gift that got opened last. "Yes, I remember, Dharma. And you are right, the biggest wasn't always the best." My wise mentor then compared the gifts to the worms in my lesson. "Once you dig the worms, my little friend, you might think that the fattest worm will be the sweet and tastiest, overlooking the smaller worm next to it. Our eyes can fool us, Irwin. We need to learn to think with both our mind and our heart. Always remember that."
So, it seems, that not only can't I have my reward first, before doing the work, but that I can't always know which reward will be the best, just by looking at it. I do know, from first-hand experience, that looks CAN be deceiving. We were nearing the end of my lesson. The tea was finished, as were the baked crickets I'd prepared earlier. Dharma frog was slow to rise saying, as he carefully lifted himself off the lily pad, "Irwin, when the work you do is the what you love to do, then you won't care if you get a reward, or you don't. You're just happy doing whatever it is that you love. You'd continue writing, wouldn't you, even if nobody ever read a single word?" "Of course!" I exclaimed. "It's my passion." "Well then," said, Dharma, "You shouldn't always expect a reward for everything you do. The work itself, oftentimes will be its own reward. This is especially true when performing volunteer work." My brain was beginning to hurt from all this thinking, and my stomach was hungry for worms, even though I'd just finished breakfast.
As the Dharma Frog hopped away, I knew that every single word he'd said was true. I had gotten three lessons today, instead of just the usual one. I had writing to do, and was eager to get started, but before I could even think about starting that, there was still one thing I had left to do; DIG for worms! And this time, I won't simply go for the fattest one, I'll give it a little thought first, before making my decision. Perhaps, if I enjoy the digging enough, I won't care if I find any worms, or I don't. I'll already have received the reward I was seeking.