This time last year I was in a state. The last time my roommate moved out of my house and into an apartment closer to campus, I’d adopted our dog. This time I joked that I wasn’t “two-dog” missing her—I wasn’t going to adopt another dog—but I was letting myself feel the loss of her companionship. I felt deflated. I didn’t have energy to do much of anything. Making dinners together, the deep conversations we engaged in, and the study-break TV watching we did enriched my life in ways I hadn’t known I needed. When she pulled her suitcase behind her and boarded a plane, I felt bereft.
I thought of all of this tonight as I pulled weeds and planted seeds in one of my raised beds. Every time I put on my gardening gloves and pull out a few tools from my shed, I note that the experience of gardening offers me insights. In the three hours I spent outdoors this evening, my ruminations centered on these four ideas:
- No season lasts forever. It’s easy to feel like this is cliché until you are on your hands and knees yanking weeds, remembering that a whole year has passed since your roommate moved away, and Tada! You are okay. More than okay. You are, in fact, thriving! This reminder never ceases to comfort me.
- The volume of weeds and the monotony of weeding can overwhelm me, so I get up and move around. I change my location and look at the task from a different perspective, and that minor shift usually helps me stay focused on the task.
- Gardening is a source of creative energy. I hear myself writing new things as I move dirt, plant seeds, and devise new ways of repurposing what I already have. I love the serendipity of letting the moment reveal what comes next. Tonight I cleared away piles of weeds from a couple weeks ago, and decided to roll out more weed block in front of my raised bed. This would help block more weeds from sprouting, but also I plan to do some container gardening, and I’ll put my containers in this spot on top of the weed block where they’ll get full sun. It will also be an efficient way to water everything at once.
- As I felt my energy waning after three hours, I set my timer for one minute, and pull as many weeds as I could. It was a LONG minute and I made great progress until I realized I hadn’t actually started the timer! Either way, I proved again that a lot can be accomplished in a short amount of time.
The pursuits I love so much—writing, gardening, and public speaking—have each taught me in their own ways to trust my processes. When I didn’t feel like working in my yard when other gardeners were a few weeks ago, I tamped down a rising sense of anxiety by reminding myself that I love gardening. When I feel up to it and I am in the mood, amazing things happen. Tonight, I felt cool breezes on my skin. I heard my favorite summer sound, the wind rustle my neighbors’ trees. I hugged my dog, and relished my own solitary company. I let my mind wander, and my body followed its lead. I accomplished more than I planned, and now I know I’ll sleep well. I look forward to what I’ll tackle next.