This has been a mostly fallow year, a year of intense, transformative struggle but very little production. My body has been a battlefield that demanded recognition, demanded I cease all things. My child’s infancy first demanded I ignore my body, push my needs aside but I finally had to stop. I suddenly and dramatically had to prioritize myself to survive for my child’s life.
I am unwell.
It is a constant state but perhaps not a permanent state. It is my current state, however, and I have learned to accept that and sit with it. I sit with pain, discomfort, frustration, and limitation and invite them to dinner. I know them now and my daily practice is in trying to extend gratitude to them as my gurus. They have forced me to simplify my life, to weed out all toxicity and have left me with the most important, the most beautiful, the most real. Any comfort and joy, any opportunity for pleasure, activity and fun, I seize it without delay, because I know now there is no guarantee it will be more than ephemera. When I am playing with my child, I am utterly present in that moment with gratitude and joy, because there have been so many times this year where I could not and I know those times will come again. When I am doing the most basic chores around the homestead, I am filled with gratitude for that ability, because I know how fragile ability really is. When I am set to a task, all that exists is that task. In this single-mindedness is the meditation of life. I have found that procrastination, once my worst habit, is not to be found in my life anymore. I move through my day, moment to moment, doing what I can, parenting the best I can and extending grace to my shortcomings.
Linear time, for the most part, has ceased to exist for me. There is only the cycle of seasons and the current moment. Past and future are alien. In contemplating their hold on this culture, I am struck with the sensation of tissue paper dissolving in my mouth. There is only now. When I am outside, drinking in the fresh air and the beauty of our homestead, I am stunned into ecstasy by the majesty of creation. For this rock or that tree, my time here is but a blip, so I try to approach that tree-consciousness in my dealings with time. Our homestead goals slowed to a halt on account of my health and the horrendous weather this year, but the fallow season is releasing its iron grip. As a delightful surprise, our fall garden is producing in an unprecedented way. My young toddler is entranced by the lush greens, turnips and giant radishes. The next growing cycle will find him involved in the process of growing things and what an utter delight that will be. In keeping with the strangeness of the year, during this time generally associated with all things dying and falling dormant for winter, there has been a veritable explosion of life everywhere. Late crops are booming, late season baby animals are thriving, butterflies can still be found in vast numbers despite the chilly evenings, neighbors are out and about, children are blossoming, and the apple saplings are clinging to their still green leaves. All creatures great and small are coming out of their shells. I’m not the only one who is feeling the weight of despair lift as the struggle of summer has dissipated.
I have been a worrier my whole life but all the worry in the world could not prevent my reality from collapsing over and over again. Worry did not prevent the many tragedies I have already survived. And I do survive. I do rebuild. So now I work in contemplation to block worry, instead of expending needless energy worrying. I sleep well. I have found my new calling in this utterly sublime, utterly ordinary life of magnificent struggle. To be there, to be present, to parent my baby, to be helpful and kind, this is what I’m here to do.