I was thinking on the weekend, it’s definitely easier to believe in a benevolent world on a sunny spring day. But just a few clouds, an overcast day – well, the world looks different. I get prone to a certain kind of ennui.
I pulled out some weeds on the weekend. This is becoming a more common occurence. I was once very resistant to pulling out weeds. Maybe it’s because I grew up on a 3 acre property, with probably nearly an acre devoted to well-tended gardens that seemed to consume my parents’ entire weekends. I didn’t want to become like that. But now I see houses with no garden and I think they’re ugly, depressing. I have begun to see why people spend time in gardens.
One of the problems was that there seemed to be nothing to do in gardens except gardening. As much as we put out chairs and tables in gardens, very few people just enjoy their garden. I certainly have trouble doing so. If only I could sit still outside and read a book! But I’m very bad at this; never comfortable.
Another problem was my tendency – starting in childhood – to divide the world and its tasks into ‘meaningful’ and ‘unmeaningful’. Anything which was repetitive, like pulling out weeds which would grow back, tended to be put into the ‘unmeaningful’ basket. Never mind that everything in life really fits that basket. No wonder I had such unrealistic expectations of life I have spent my twenties disabusing myself of.
Kathleen Norris writes incisively of making one’s bed as an act of hospitality to yourself in Acedia and Me. I now believe this in theory, though I still have trouble doing it. I’ve always had troubles with routines. I think one thing I’m learning to accept in life is routines. I’m learning to see them as usually necessary and sometimes good. Yet they lull me into my my boring self, that’s what I fear.
Because too often in recent years, people see the wrong side of me, or they see something that’s really only a part of me. Me in safe mode, a librarian not wanting to stand out for the wrong reasons. The struggle between standing out and not standing out. (This has something to do with the stalemate between 1 and 4 in my personality on the Enneagram, not that I’ve really looked into it.) I have come to detest in myself and others acts designed to stand out for their own sake, without substance, attempts to get attention. It’s easy to offend, especially if you dull your empathy with the roar of righteous indignation or ambition. These days, I’ve resolved to only offend or stand out when I really have to.
Fear of offending has made me so careful what I write on my blogs. Oh, the things I used to write on those blogs which a failed server in the USA obliterated! Perhaps they have grown in my memory. But I was fearless, reckless, ready to tell everything to everyone. Perhaps this post marks the return of getting personal, as inoffensively as a gentle truthfulness allows.
I have been doing so much weeding lately that the muscles in my hands ache!
I have found I quite enjoy it (even wrote a poem about it).
Routine things like that can be quite satisfying – I think it’s when they’re all you have in your life that they are depressing.
There’s that old monastic belief that they “keep your mind free” for thinking about God etc. When I was in Carmel, weeding was the main job I was given (being most junior).
Also, once you become a parent, you learn how essential routine is for your kids. (This didn’t come naturally to me, but it’s second nature now.) It almost seems to be how a “person” gets made. It’s strange how cyclical and repetitive we are.
Interesting post. I seem to be spending more and more time in the garden these days and enjoying it!
Look forward to the change in the blogs…