As I’ve said before, I’m not big on new year resolutions. Improving oneself, doing better, overcoming obstacles is a quotidian endeavor . What we want and hope changes as the years go by and as one’s circumstances change. That said, the birth of a new year does ask for a bit of reflection. It is an opportunity to reaffirm one’s philosophy and review where one is in this journey of life.
I’m no different from anybody – I could certainly eat better, be more active, sleep more effectively and in general, pursue a much healthier lifestyle. But, I also realize that most good habits are easily formed when underlying obstacles are dealt with first. Instead of telling myself to avoid eating junk food when stressed, I must remove the cause of the stress. If I’m cranky and grumpy because I haven’t done anything creative lately, then I must determine why or what is blocking my creativity. Its no good to just say I’ll try to be more agreeable. Without real understanding and specific action, any attempt at a resolution is but Sisyphean. One is then condemned to a life of dissatisfaction, regret and disappointment with oneself. How sad and undeserved is that?
Instead, I’m going to take each day as a new chance to be and do better. I’ve given this matter some thought and it’ll come as no surprise that my garden will be my partner and mentor. I’ve resolved to spend even more time in it! That one factor alone will have me feeling good and therefore being good. But, there is more. In the garden, I’ll do things that create the right mood/circumstances that either eliminate the gremlins that trip me up or point me in the correct direction. Wisdom of the ages has always advised staying connected to Nature. The beauty, health benefits and lessons learned from it are incomparable.
In general, this exercise in self improvement is all about being more aware and present. To be in the moment one must necessarily be calm and focused. The mind cannot be cluttered. By bringing myself to each thing I do, I offer complete attention and an open mind. And I intend to accomplish this by doing things that nourish my spirit . No hardship or sacrifice required. Does the world really need more martyrs?
So here is my plan:
I shall take a photograph every day. I’m a prolific photographer and carry a camera with me all the time. But now, every day, I shall take a more thoughtful, deliberate photograph that is appropriate to my mood and state of mind.
Similarly, I will make and write down a specific and timely observation in the garden. The daily photo and this observation could but not necessarily be about the same thing. Either way, they require focus and insight. I must be still within to see clearly without.
Third, I shall do a daily sketch in the garden. Again, it might be about what I photograph and/or write. It does not have to be an amazing rendition but will still demand of me to be present. Nulla Dies Sine Linea – no day without drawing a line. Are you catching on to my ploy?!
I shall seek to sustain my curiosity by setting up my ‘garden cam’ to take sequential photos of the meadow all through the year. The meadow is where much goes on but is easily neglected. After all, no weeding or mowing goes on here. Its only when flowers are in bloom that it draws any notice at all. I did set up the camera last year but consistently neglected to download or even check to see if the device was working. This year, I be more conscientious about downloading and studying the photos and videos. Curiosity is extremely important because, without this quality, much of life will go unexamined. It needs to be fueled all the time.
Each week, I will make an arrangement from things gathered in the garden. I hesitate to use the word ‘floral’ as I intend to think out of the box and use a variety of materials to create something unexpected. Again, no pressure to come up with something fabulous. This must be fun to do and should guide me to think beyond my comfort zone. One mustn’t stagnate right? Fresh ideas give way to new perspectives. I’ll photograph each arrangement and it’ll be interesting to see a compilation at the end of the year.
Lately, designing healing gardens has been very much on my mind. Making such a space fresh and contemporary and still offering timeless solace is an exciting challenge. I plan to work on this project seriously and shall do it whilst ensconced in my garden which will serve as both muse and laboratory.
The side perks of all this ‘extra’ time in the garden are that, I’m removed from tempting foods, not lolling about lazily on the couch, not distracted by television, phone and other intrusive technology. Doesn’t that sound healthy and wholesome?!
Finally, something that is not going to happen in the garden. I’m not at all sure I should announce it lest concerned parties hold me to it – I will make a dessert a week. To some that might not seem like a big deal at all. And they’re right. It is not hard to do. But, the fact is, I don’t get around to making dessert that often. Yet, when I do, it makes my family immensely happy. I intend to make them more regularly happy. This one item makes me more apprehensive than all the others put together! Perhaps it is because it makes me accountable to others and not just to myself.
Notice that I’m not asking of myself to be different or uncomfortable, do what is difficult or disliked, spend money or reach for the impossible. I’m simply hoping to gently grow myself with understanding and attention. In doing so, I bring to the world that same understanding and attention.
From the depth of my heart, I wish each of you a very happy, love and laughter filled 2014.
(c) 2013 Shobha Vanchiswar