More often than not, particularly at this time of year, I find myself swallowed-up by the day to day, and the potentially-overwhelming constant list-making and planning for the next few days, or even weeks. Despite planning for planting season, and harvesting and canning season, in a way, I end up being a creature of the habitual moment-- just a doer.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with doing. Usually, I like the doing of the tasks I’ve set out for myself, in this life I’ve chosen to lead. Even bringing food and water to chickens, or weeding the ambitiously large garden are not chores, per se, if, in the moment of doing them, I smile at the chicken antics; if I say hi to these silly little fellow beings; if I stop and wonder at a new weed type, or if I listen to the birds around me. All of these moments, enjoyed while doing, as well as the doing itself, are why I do love this way of life. Seed goes in soil, while I get a bugs-eye view of the world (and prematurely age my knees a little bit more). Sprouts come up, and get quietly cultivated around with a hoe. And then there are beans, and more beans (and other things)! So, so many beans, breaking my back as I harvest, loving the quiet of it, and the promise. Beans for supper, beans blanched and dried off and frozen, beans pickled. Happy, full people.
I love the doing, the actions I’ve set forth for myself, simple, time-honored. I love the repetition, as well as the always unknowable, ever-changing nature of working within the weather. Doing, when done with attention, can be a sort of prayer. Kneel down, hand full of seeds, nose to the earth, facing north. Walk on your knees. Listen. Listen. Doing can also be a danger, a loss to the soul, when it becomes just the doing, without any thought or listening. I think that is why the thought of most people’s jobs makes me want to run away, hands in the air! I find it all too easy to get lost in the list, the to-do, the task-upon-task. One moment it is 6am, the next it’s 9:30. Rinse and repeat. Maybe, for some people, it works to just feel like you’re living on the weekend. It is SO easy to go into automatic the rest of the time. When I remember to think about it, however, I rebel at the notion of living life after hours, as it were. To run on automatic means to forget the greater stuff that can make life worthwhile. Stopping to appreciate a moment, or just really feeling and listening while you’re mid-task, does not mean stopping doing, it does not mean being lazy, or being a poor worker. We don’t stop what we’re doing to breathe. There is a difference between doing and doing automatically.
This year, I am striving for a better balance. I work away from home (here) three or four days a week, and stay there overnight to cut down on gas costs and wear on the car. When I am home, the daily tasks of household maintenance, plus my choice to grow most of our vegetable for the year, and all the other stuff that goes along with my half of our little farm can become anxiety-producing and overwhelming. My goal for this season is to make lists less ridiculous, to do a little bit of work in the garden every day I AM home to keep a big build-up from happening, and to plan for harvest and canning time so that, yes, I will still be my busiest, but I will remember to breathe. After all, I CHOSE this life. I found something I loved to do, and decided to make it work. But it doesn’t qualify as working, if in the deciding to do it, I forget to be kind, forget to breathe, or forget the bigger picture. So here’s to being conscious doers, thinking beings, alive. If it weren’t pouring right now, I’d go kneel in the garden and walk north on my knees, planting some more seeds.