I woke up feeling philosophical this morning.

While washing the dishes and looking over the fruit trees planted below, I began thinking about my life and career thus far.

I've been working as an artist for over ten years now, exhibiting in galleries around Australia. In order to stay productive I learned I needed one thing in particular: a sense of abundance.

I needed abundant art materials of any kind; stacks of old computer paper; 500ml cans of house paint; tubes of oils; piles of canvases all primed and ready to go. It wasn't about having expensive materials, that wasn't the point, there just had to be a lot of them.

When I was creating I didn't want to stop because I'd run out of canvases. More importantly, to get past that terrifying stage of putting a mark on a blank canvas, I had to trick myself into believing it wasn't that important anyway. Because look, I had a whole stack of them and if it didn't work out, no matter, I'd just do another one. That process served me well in providing the safety to continue to explore new styles and new materials, and as a result kept my painting practice alive, new and interesting.

So, reflecting on this sense of abundance, I began thinking about connections with health and gardening. Robert Fritz, author of 'The Path of Least Resistance' (an excellent book on the creative process), says how we need to set up structures in our lives that naturally lead to getting the results we want.

By creating structures, we also create tension, and as humans we will follow the path of least resistance to resolve that tension.

It's not about taking the lazy approach and saying, 'Oh well, I'll just take the path of least resistance and sit here on the couch all day watching my favorite TV shows.'
He explains how once we acknowledge and understand our tendency to follow the path of least resistance, we can actually engineer situations, and he calls them structures, to lead us towards our deepest desires.

My mandarin tree embodies both of these scenarios right now. It gives me a sense of abundance, because it's laden, and I mean branch-drooping, more orange than green, laden with fruit at the moment.

One of my deepest desires is to be healthy, and for me, (and most humans I suppose!) that involves eating fresh, organic fruits and vegetables. There are so many mandarins it is easier to eat them than buy snacks.

So, in a sense I've unwittingly put myself into a structure that leads towards my deepest desires.
It's easier to eat mandarins than leave the house and go to the supermarket in the next town.

As a result, I've eaten more mandarins in the past month than I've eaten since I was in primary school. Back then, my mum sent me to school with one and a little bowl of sugar to dunk the segments in (how did I get away with that?!).

This mandarin tree also helps me down the path of least resistance to fulfill some of my other deepest desires. Ones I didn't even know I had!

I actually have three mandarin trees in fruit on the property at the moment. There's no way I can eat them all, and so the path of least resistance is to give them away!

As an artist, I've always had to be fairly frugal with money and it's meant I've spent ten years monitoring how much I had to spend on gifts, dinners, even shouting friend’s coffee. It wasn't that I was stingy, but it was always something I had to take into consideration (many friends and family got paintings. A win-win for all)

The mandarin trees have allowed me to enjoy a sense of abundance in giving fruit to friends who don't have trees of their own. It's like money has been taken out of the equation and abundance and generosity go hand in hand. I'm still getting used to this un-monetised system, but I like it!

One other function these mandarin trees are performing, simply by standing tall and expressing their full “mandarinness”, fulfills another of my deepest desire; caring for the earth. All those mandarins I've eaten have cut down my food miles considerably.

The only food miles are on foot, from my house to the garden!

Their surplus is used to build soil and returned to the earth in the form of beautiful compost. And, being organic, there are no extra chemicals washed into the waterways or leaching into the soil from their production.

I've thought about how these ideas might extend to other areas of the garden. I love eating rocket (arugula in the USA) and have some growing in a small patch behind the house. But I still limit myself to how often I pick it because I don't want to use it all up! I'm used to the old way of thinking, that rocket costs more money than lettuce and is a special treat.

I could create a new structure, where abundance translates to better health. If I built another garden bed and planted more rocket, or even if I simply planted more amongst the existing veggies, I'd be setting up a new structure where I'd eat more rocket. And it's the same price as lettuce when you grow your own!

How many times do we decide what to eat, by choosing what is convenient? I do pretty regularly, even more so now Chris is in Brisbane most of the time.

So, by accepting that the path of least resistance is eating what's convenient, I can use that reality to make eating rocket the most convenient thing.

That means following the Permaculture principle of zones, and planting the rocket close to the house so it's easy to harvest. It also means simply planting more rockets.

The Permaculture principle that encourages us think about everything in our garden as having multiple uses is beautifully illustrated by the mandarin trees.

They are:

"Creating the tension of surplus fruit, which leads to me eating fresh, organic, wholesome fruit (instead of a block of cheese from the supermarket -seriously, that's what I sometimes snack on, if left to my own devices!)”

"Building rich compost for the soil and not contributing chemicals to the earth”

"It helped me explore my neglected desires to be generous by giving away surplus to friends, without costing me a cent.”

I love the way they change what would ordinarily have been my negative impact on the earth, into a positive outcome. They are building soil and not adding chemicals to the soil and ground water.

I've got an inkling that we can all be like those trees; when we are in a structure that allows us to fully express our natures in the right environment it leads to multiple positive effects. But that's the topic for another day.

What do you think about the path of least resistance and how does it affect your life? What structures can you use to point you in the direction of your deepest desires? Leave your insights below!

Author's Bio: 

Organic gardener Nicola Chatham shares tips, videos and fun stories in her acclaimed free weekly newsletter Sprout!.

If you want to grow your own organic food at home, have more fun in the garden and create abundance in your life, join Sprout! and get your FREE guide 'Discover Your Green Thumb' now at http://www.nicolachatham.com/