I pulled this little saying from the back of my worm composting tutorial yesterday. What I love about working in my garden, planning out my meals around the Farmer’s market, making foods from scratch, is that they are all activities that require a high level of commitment. By comparison to being a writer on deadlines, or a jill-of-all-trades wearing several different hats in each day, the activity of growing my own food forces me to pause, slow down, listen, and observe. But what I’ve learned in my commitment to living unprocessed, is that all of these preceding activities are just the noise that surrounds the true center of our lives.
When we live our lives by our jobs and to-do lists, bulldozing through the minutes of each day, we are in touch primarily with life as something to get done. This kind of life feels really thin to me, like I’m just racing atop a very narrow track trying to get to the next thing directly in front of me, until I drop dead one day. This was how I first attempted to grow my own food; I had received a potted basil plant as a gift and let it sit in the window in my kitchen. At the time I was considering going to grad school for psychology and I was busy in my time off from work researching, writing essays, and applying to schools. I watered that plant every morning except for when I forgot, and let it be flooded with sunlight until I remembered to put it in the shade. When I first received the plant, it was filled with beautifully green, aromatic leaves. One month later, the roots had molded, and stems lifted weakly out of the too-wet soil, ending in brown stumps with no leaves at all. My thought process with the plant had been very similar to how my life had been: -pay app fee for UCLA -reschedule dentist appt -request tour of school -exercise at gym -water plant -leave plant in sun. It was just another something to get done.
With time and experience, I would say that I’m better at caring for plants than I used to be. Unfortunately, much of my life is still filled with long lists, highly organized to get all the items done. Grr, there’s that word again. But being a more interested and curious gardener, has given my plants more of the support they need. Caring for a plant however, brings me back to being a child, to the importance of treating living creatures well, to observing, to listening, to nurturing. Life is rich and it is not in forcing it to grow that we procure bounty but in listening to what it’s saying, slowing down, and making time for its life cycle. Being present, not getting it done, is what makes our gardens grow. Any thoughts?