Thursday, May 29, 2014

Mindful Living Needs Space

The perimeter garden along the back of Adagio property is eight to ten feet wide. Seven years ago, azaleas, roses and a few scattered perennials allowed plenty of room for weeds but also made weeding a relatively direct process. Since I have rarely met a perennial I didn’t like, today there is little unplanted dirt. The roses are forced to climb their trellis high if they are to shine above delphinium, daylilies, campanula, iris, and the list goes on.

Shasta daisies are becoming a problem. Lychnis has stretched its roots through the lavender to get to the echinacea. Lunaria was a cheerful early pink behind the daffodils, but now it has seeded to the pathways, the rhubarb, and beyond. Something needs to be done.

My to-do list can be as overrun as my garden with too many excellent, worthwhile activities and goals that push me past my lawn chair into a hectic place. Joy is easily overgrown with “shoulds” and “coulds”.  The roots of busy slip into beds of satisfaction and dis them. In contrast, deliberate “time out” re-energizes and illuminates pleasure in thoughtful being. Mindful living pushes aside the invasive greenery, trims the out-of-sort branches that scratch at our contemplation, discovers the rich soil beneath. 

In art, space leads the eye to the main event. It lacks identity of its own but highlights lines, light or shadow. Mindful living flourishes in space, both positive (light and joy) and negative (dark and pain-filled). When a morning reaches noon and all our residents are cared for and happy, we sit on the deck to bird watch or in the kitchen with a juice drink and tell stories of who did what and wasn’t that good. The caregiver’s teenagers didn’t call with complaint, we received no news which is good news from our adult children, no one has an infection or suffered a mini stroke, and the herbs are growing tall in the window box. We thankfully pause in this space of light.

Negative space requires contemplation no less than light-filled moments. The telephone ringing can be made a cue to breathe deeply, roll shoulders. The burden of bad medical diagnosis may be carried when we carve out moments of ceased activity and prayer. News of relationship dissolution may be pondered while doing mindless hand work. A fast walk through a nature preserve may pound out fear until the heart is calmed and pumping legs can slow to deliberate walking.

Space allows me to see the truth: that persistent stem is not a flower; it’s a weed. We grow in beds of tall turmoil that serve to isolate us when we mistake them for achieved success. The view we lose is that of ourselves.

My garden needs space. The jumble of greenery self-placed confuses the view. Tomorrow I will patiently tease out of the ground white roots from stem to stem, pulling them free of the soil. Unless I sit on the deck with the residents and count sailboats while we murmur quietly, so many clouds.  Such beautiful clouds.

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