Busy As A Bee
If one were to ask a bee if it was busy,
I wonder if it would agree.
After all, the bee buzzes
as it minds its own business
Sublimely unaware of other purposes.
Gardening season has just begun and already I’m hearing the classic defense. What is this “ I’m crazy busy” badge of honor we wear so proudly? Does it imply a preoccupation to be envied or does it beg for pity because the busy one has no time for anything else? There is a distinct note of self-importance implicit in that “I’m very busy” line. I think it has become an easy excuse to explain away ones lack of varied pursuits and interests. Instead of honestly saying ‘no’ to a request, we hide behind ‘busy’. Rather than stick ones neck out to try something new and risk looking foolish if one should fail, we’re much safer being busy with the same old. “I can’t be bothered” is what “I’m very busy” often means. In that case, just say so! And the worst of it is that at one time or other, we’re all guilty of this refrain. Undeniably there are times when a situation takes over and other things are consequently neglected. But being in a perennial state of busy-ness that precludes matters that one admits to being of some relevance indicates that something is off kilter. An imbalanced life.
How can a person who is too busy to start a vegetable garden have the time to watch every episode of Judge Judy? Or for that matter, why is having children a reason to not have time to garden? It is the perfect time! Children can never be too young to be taken into the garden. They watch and learn more effectively than we can ever measure. I remember securing my baby in her bouncy seat and keeping her by my side as I weeded. I’d talk about what I was doing, offer her a whiff of a fragrant flower, run a velvety leaf of lamb’s ears up her arm and watch her sigh with pleasure. As I moved to weed another bed, I’d just pick up the seat with baby and take her along. As she got older, she learned to first deadhead and then graduated to weeding. In turn, I learned to unwind during her nap time. Catch a few winks, read a few pages or add a few more brush strokes to an emerging watercolor. When both of us were refreshed, we’d go into the garden. I got the hang of not being too busy and understood the benefits of an ‘unbusy’ life.
Try this experiment. Pick a day to get totally unplugged. I know, you’re thinking about the kids not getting a hold of you or the world falling apart. Well, for just this one day ask them to call another responsible adult in case of an emergency. Promise not to check emails, browse the Internet, answer the phone, look at a tweet or turn on the television. Don’t panic; it is for just one, measly day. You are still physically available if so needed. Now, use your time to do whatever you deem necessary, interesting or pending. It could be tackling the laundry, finishing the crossword, having lunch with a friend, preparing a new garden bed. No matter the task, be mindful about doing it well. It’ll be easier than you think as you’ve already eliminated the usual distractions and time guzzlers. At the end of the day, you’ll find that the world functioned quite smoothly without you and you got plenty done. It is rather sobering to discover that we aren’t missed so much. As long as you keep telling everybody that you are up front and center, they will pass on all sorts of responsibilities on to you. This just makes you overbooked. It does not mean you are indispensable.
Gardeners are some of the most active people I know. Not because they appear to be mucking about endlessly in the garden, but because they are invariably engaged in life as a whole. My totally unscientific but highly personal observations lead me to think that the lessons revealed by working in nature, inspire and empower the gardener to try many other things. Writing, designing, cooking, participating in causes both local and global, the list grows. In essence, we grow as our plants grow. And, along the way, like the bee, we don’t ask ourselves if we’re busy. We simply go about our business.
For myself, curiosity is fostered in the garden and then transposed onto other areas of life. Nature’s handiwork in pairing certain colors together translates to my wardrobe and interior decorating. The beauty of the flowers shows up in my watercolors. Fresh produce goes directly into innovative recipes. Naturally occurring patterns and shapes like that of fiddle-head ferns, centers of sunflowers, trumpets of daffodils, barks of trees are all fodder for numerous design projects. When the birds are building nests, I thoroughly clean and tidy mine. The garden is my muse for living well.
I want my days filled with creativity, productivity and lots of joy. However, I never want to be so busy as to fall short of my own expectations and potential. And, I always have time to stop and smell the roses.
There is art, science, engineering, music, philosophy, and pure fun in the garden. So create more unbusy time and get outside. Get some dirt under your fingernails, color in your cheeks and a good dose of inspiration. No need to thank me. I’m just happy you made the time.
(c)2013 Shobha Vanchiswar