Sometimes I just get stuck and can’t seem to find the energy to do anything at all. What stops me is the thought that I don’t have the energy to follow through with a big plan or project right at this moment. I want to, but just can’t.
I was in the garden a few days ago in one of these listless moods. I try to avoid these moods. I feel a black hole, or the rushing river of emotions running just under my surface, and they threaten to swallow me up or drown me when I get too close to them. I feel safer when I am busy, when my thoughts and actions are focused. That’s why I get nervous when I run out of steam. I’m an advocate of action. I think there is plenty enough down time between the actions, between each breath, between each sentence, to reflect and consider the nature of the universe, to meditate. Too much free time is not good for me. Or not these days anyway… I looked at my garden, ignored for most of the last 18 months that I’ve lived here, and was silently grateful that it was so well designed (not by me!). It barely needs any care at all. And when it does it gently nudges me.
But there are weeds in my garden. The grass in the center looks fine, but the borders with the little boxwood bushes are a mess. I manage to mow the grass every few weeks. And if I don’t feel like it my boyfriend loves doing it with our 3 ½ year old little friend. They run back and forth pushing it and pretending like it is a wild animal. But the rose bushes, the flowering plants whose names I don’t know, and the borders have all been ignored. I can’t help but think this is a great metaphor for me as a person these last couple of years. I always manage to have well coiffed hair and reasonably trimmed fingernails. But beyond that minimal level of grooming, well, I’ve been lazy or lethargic. Some of the weeds in the borders even have flowers; they’re not all bad. But they threaten to take over what was once a very well landscaped English garden. My landlords would not be happy.
I sat down on the stairs leading up to the garden, just next to one of these weeds. It was huge. I automatically reached for it and was surprised it came out so easily. The ground is dry. England has all but left behind its rainy days. We’ve been in a drought for a couple of months, or at least I’ve forgotten the importance of rain (or the absence of it). Looking down at the weeds in my hand reminded me of something I used to know – it only takes a little effort to complete a big task. My garden is one step closer to being cared for. I didn’t really need all of the energy I imagined I would. It may be another day or three before I pull out another clump of weeks, but I’ve made a start.
This week I began exercising again and it was purely by accident. I took a little stroll with a friend who neglected to tell me our walk in the country would more be than 11 miles! I felt so proud of myself that the next day I played tennis, and then again a few days later. And suddenly, my inner garden is just that much more groomed. My little unconscious effort was rewarded ten-fold. Just like the weeds I inadvertently pulled. So my note to myself next time I feel like the job is too big for me is to simply do the thing closest to me, the easiest thing or to not even worry too much about it. Nature encourages us to take care of our gardens by just being there. We as humans are pretty well designed too. When it’s time to take care of myself, or to do a bigger project than I have the energy for, I’ll just reach for the thing closest to me.