I spend a lot of time alone, a lot of time in silence. I prefer it. But once in awhile, in the space of that silence, I like to check in with myself, see what my brain is, exactly, doing with all that unstructured time.
I'm back on this faith kick; maybe I'm trying to talk myself into having some.
I wish I were a plant. The nasturtium, the comfrey, the cucumber, the echinacea--they don't wonder what to do with all of this loam, with these rains, this sun. They just...grow. I have more faith in those seeds than I do in the hand that plants them, that's for sure.
Actually, they probably do, too.
And maybe plants don't need faith because they don't process like we do (lucky plants); they just live and communicate and thrive. Or not. I've spent enough of my life around them--growing and grown, drying and fresh, as tea or tincture, as seeds, as medicine, as friends, and as food--that I know this. I know they have no worries about their ability to do the job they were called to do, nor does their sacrifice burden them. It's a built-in calling and, man, do I envy that. I guess what I crave is that kind of birthright, that kind of certainty, that kind of focus.
I watched a film recently and, nestled within it, was this allegory of perseverance, a story of train tracks being built over mountains, even though the technology to cross those mountains didn't yet exist.
That has stuck with me for days. To my continuing dismay, I realize I am not one for faith. I can talk a good game, but when it comes to belief, like so many of us, I just don't believe that good things will happen for me. But this story was, yes, about faith, but it was about building, creating something tangible that was essentially a monument to faith.
Tangible I can do. So this got me thinking--we prepare the garden beds every spring and, I don't know about you, but I tempt fate by sowing slightly-less-robust seeds (beans, nasturtiums, summer squash) before the last frost--just on the off-chance.
What the train tracks story made clear is that my "just on the off-chance" habit *is* an act of faith. I am practicing faith, I guess, even when I get up in the morning, g...
I've always been grateful that, for all my other shortcomings, I've never suffered much from envy. Sure, I admire and often wish for what I don't have (thick hair comes to mind, as does the ability to go on road trips without worrying about rest stops every two hours, and, you know, a savings account would be nice...that sort of thing), but it's never been all-consuming or kept me up at night. No, I have other worries for that.
And it's not that I'm so comfortable in my own skin, because I'm not, though certainly moreso now than I ever have been. And it's not that I don't have regrets, because I do, on occasion, but I also know the futility of past-life-living and, really, who has time for that?
But the other day I was struck so exquisitely with a sensation I could not name, that I hadn't felt often enough to assign it one, and only after a restless night did I realize it was by-the-book/Shakespearean-tragedy-level envy. (And, of course, it was brought to me by that devil-and-his-...
In order to be my whole, comfortable self, I have to have routine. Of course, that's not always possible (boo!) and to go out of one's way (or to get into one's way, depending) for the sake of routine is just, let's face it, crazy-pants.
Even if it is what we little introvert-bookworm-homebody-gardeners would really, really prefer to do...
So I've developed this fail-safe secret weapon: secret rooms, scattered all over the place, for every conceivable scenario. Usually, they're gardens, or some outdoor, out-of-the-way spot. Sometimes, it's the corner of a building where one can breathe for a few moments, unseen. And, well, lots of times they're bathrooms.
Oh! And my car. That's a good one, too, in case I need a secret room on the road. I have blankets and chocolate, snacks and a first aid kit, as well as favorite cd's (um, I don't have a bluetooth thingy or one of those earphone-like pluggy bits in my car).
So, there are ways, my petals. There are ways of stepping out...
It's all the stuff crammed inside the seed's shell--the good stuff, the bad stuff, the sweep-under-the-carpet-when-company-comes stuff, all of it. You have to know and pick up and handle and, if not love, at least acknowledge all of it enough to say hello to. Because, love it or not, it's all you and it will always be all you.
Even if you change your habits (which is always bloody harder than we think it will be), we have relapses and, even barring that, those so-called weaknesses are part of our map, our genetic makeup (if you will), and there ain't a whole heck of a lot of anything we can do about that.
But we can hug it all close, get what nutrients we can, and when we know that, no matter what the weather, we can stand to claim all of ourselves, then we can soak in sun and drink in rain with the best of them.
I find wind either refreshing or downright torturous, depending on the temperature, the task, visibility/ice conditions, and gale force. The thing is, wind gives you nowhere to hide; it seeks out your secrets, your weaknesses, and (given the right circumstances) can cut anyone to the quick of their tolerance level.
In other words, you learn a lot about the company you keep (yourself included) when faced with blocks to walk (or hours to sail) in wind-chilled conditions.
It's a pretty accurate, rather humbling, litmus test to scope the depth of your own well of compassion.