It is where we can look to for a grander understanding of ourselves as a microcosm in this magnificent, seemingly infinite Universe. Nature is our mother, father, culture, god, self. There is genuinely no separation between us as human beings and the world around us, but for our conscious (or unconscious) observation of what we perceive as, our separate selves.
I am often unconscious of my space in nature, my relationship to all of the glorious life that surrounds me. But today, spending a morning-turned-afternoon-turned-evening outside, beneath the rising sun and the blue sky, I was gifted these lessons: an inside glimpse into how we can work with nature, applying what it teaches us, to the struggles in our own lives.
1. Be willing to do what calls to you.
Having other people working elsewhere in the yard, can sometimes be a distraction to us and our intentions. Be mindful of where we are, and what in our immediate surroundings may be inviting us to investigate. To fully participate in the overall experience is what we are here to do in our own lives, not follow someone else around asking what we can do with them. For me in this moment, the weeds emerging from the cracks of the patio, that grow prolifically and embed themselves into the earth below, where they remain hidden from view most of the time—this is what I am present to and interested in working on.
2. Trust yourself to use the proper tools designed for the job.
Selecting the tools for my task was easy. I needed gloves, a long dandelion puller and a miniature shovel. It was clear to me. In fact, I did not even have to consider whether or not a large shovel would be of use; I knew the field I was about to till, and I trusted my instinct to not proceed toward the larger tools, but to just stay with the smaller variety.
Trust yourself. You have been gathering and using various tools in your environment for your entire life. There is an intuitive nature that is driven to pull you forward into life: listen to and trust it.
2. Clear out the overgrowth: the dead stuff that is no longer actually a part of the issue.
The overgrowth from last season seems to inflate the fresh, newly emerging weed. Sometimes, when we first notice an issue, it can seem much larger and robust than it really is, which becomes evident once it has been stripped bare to reveal its true nature. The surrounding dry, slippery remnants of what used to be, is one way that the weed protects itself by reducing your ability to get a firm grip, with which to extract it by its root. This excessive obstruction, simply confuses the core issue. These dormant issues are neither relevant to, nor equivalent to the center of the weed you are there to extract. So, by removing those items before you get started on addressing the core issue, you’ll find you are able to wrap your hands around it much easier.
3. Be patient with yourself and with the issue itself, as you work to remove it.
Proper time is necessary for both partners, in this destructive yet creative dance, to cooperate with an extraction. Once the plant has grown up through the cracks to be large enough that you are able to embrace the most hearty aspects of it, you will be blessed with a greater grasp, and thus, increase your odds of fully removing the weed by its root.
Here is where employing patience will serve you. Patience is a rare and beautiful experience that not only opens the door to cooperation when you pull and the weed resists, keeping your grip you relax your effort just slightly, focusing your energy on the intended outcome, and then as you are confident you have a newly secure grip, you give it a slow and firm tug again. Practicing patience allows you to listen fully to the secrets contained in your own garden.
4. Be willing to care for your body, it is your primary vehicle.
Proper body mechanics brings structural alignment and thus more leverage toward your intended outcome. You wouldn’t bend over from the waist for example, to pull out a weed with a deep, respectful root system. No, you would crouch or kneel, dropping your center deep into the earth and witness with reverence the change you are about to exact. We participate willingly in this experience of creation, and yet, so often in frustration, in a hurry, in a huff—we curse the very thing we are there to eradicate; as though it were our enemy, our burden, our curse. Caring for ourselves, our body mechanics, our thirst, is of utmost importance as we navigate through our garden.
5. Be willing to take breaks periodically.
Listening to ourselves and to nature when we have been working hard, if there comes a request for a break, allow it. There will always be time to return to our efforts, and start right where we left off. Go write an article about what it is teaching you, go meditate, breathe deeply and enjoy the feel of the sun on your skin; relax, absorb, allow. Give yourself permission to have fun along the way. Life is supposed to be fun, allow it.
We would do well to remember we cannot be involved in a creative process without immersing ourselves into the various elements that comprise creation. Getting dirt under our fingernails is part of the task at hand. There is no real way to avoid it. The sooner we surrender to the fact that being messy, dirty and full on discomposure will result from this effort—the sooner we can experience the freedom that is on the other side of the lie that we are here to be perfect.
When we lift the curtain on the idea that flawlessness, order, or perfection is required to have a happy life—we can see how free we are to dance, play, laugh and live our lives fully expressing our selves, both in times of full bloom and in times of hibernation. There are seasons to every aspect of nature.
My friends, we actually are the dirt we are afraid to be soiled with. Why not revel in it?
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Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photos: Pixoto user Lee Acaster