There was a moment this morning, as the 16 children tried out a free write to their chosen essay topic in our workshop, in which I remembered the feel of engagement that I treasure in reading and writing. That in-the-zone, reading state. It seems there is a writing state, too. The writing pulled them in and their thoughts grew into other thoughts. And I love that palpable sense of engagement anywhere I find it. Any way I can foster it.
Lately I have wanted to do the sort of journal writing to shift from weeks of pragmatic writing. And when I garden I think.
So, when I got home from writing workshop, I was eager to enjoy my first day out in the sun in the yard. Whether the Ground Hog called for more winter or not, today was like spring, and the wonderful dousing of rain we’ve enjoyed made the grasses and their weed cousins thrive.
I was bent over squatting in the front yard pulling weeds out by the fistful. The soft, damp earth, layered with cubic yards of compost l wheel-barrowed and shoveled in last spring, made the weeds yield to my tugs, so many came out without resistance. The grasses, flat against the ground, required more strategic twisting and lifting to bring them out by the roots. Gradually I made little piles of greenery to toss into a big pile by the driveway. All very satisfying. Perhaps if you are not a gardener, this would not sound like fun at all.
Meanwhile my cat Mickey had come out to watch the dogs walking by and hang out with me in the sunshine. My garden gloves were wet and I officially had dirt under my fingernails. Perhaps it is because I come from a long line of farmers and orators that I like to garden? Why else would dirt under my fingernails feel satisfying? (I know, some would be saying, “Ewww.”)
As I worked, my mind went through versions of thoughts about recent things my women friends have said to me. They seem to see a version of me that I cannot get clearly. Well, of course, when one is in the middle of being oneself, it is hard to step out and get a look. I remember drawing a cartoon a long time ago with the caption, “Get a good look at yourself,” in which this person was trying to stretch out of his own skin and look back at himself. At that time I thought it witty and weird.
But today, trying to think about myself in that way — to get a look from my friends’ perspective, or see myself more clearly — was difficult. What will it look like; how will I change or grow up to be more settled with myself? I wonder?
And, when I had shared my intention (to attract a love partner) with one girl friend, she said that I will find myself to be the perfect love partner I seek. That thought I mulled as I took out tiny weeds around the daffodil bulbs that are pushing up through the wet earth. And my friend had then exhorted me to think more highly of myself – in short, to knock off self-deprecating talk. Which was like a bucket of cold water because I had not until then noticed that I do speak critically of myself. Sigh.
Hmm, pulling weeds is easy, bending gets tiring and some weeds are resistant, but this felt like a tall order, if indeed friendly advice leads the way I need to go. Will affirmations help me? I am dubious — but willing. Carl Barth wrote, a long time ago, “Nothing is so loathesome as the self-loathing of the self one loathes.” Which again, when I was younger, like that cartoon I drew, was a statement that merely amused me as clever.
However, when one is perched on this view of life, noting precious few years left and wanting to make every minute count, the idea that I need to grow into my own skin, or adjust my self attitude seems like I have somehow missed the boat. My thoughts don’t lead me to certainty about exactly what my challenge is. Or where to begin. I guess I’ve lived my entire life without knowing what self love is.
So I mused and the succulents in my front yard were revealed as the weeds had been plucked away.
This much my meditations have provided: I admit to a need to grow in self-confidence. To be confident of my ability to succeed. In spite of many things I’ve done successfully, I don’t carry a card that introduces me as someone who knows what she is doing. Look up confident in the dictionary and my picture is not there.
The pile of grasses and weeds would make good compost, but they’re waiting for the green pickup on the curb. I got dirt under my finger nails. I made an attempt to sort out some things that puzzle me.
Perhaps all that needs to happen in my soul, or personality, is a good weeding. Then maybe I’ll find this wonderful person my friends adore? I’ll find that she’s been there, growing or going dormant all the time.