I have always wanted a garden. My house at the beach has a small balcony with a couple of potted plants, but it’s not the same as a bit of land. There is a lovely community garden in our neighbourhood that I’ve always meant to sign up for, but somehow never quite got around to. One year I missed the deadline (by a day!), the next I had completely forgotten it… but last summer I decided it was time to commit to my dream. So I highlighted the date in my calendar, filled in an application form and just like that, got awarded a garden patch. It’s only fifteen square meters, but I’m happy as can be. It’s just marvelous to put some seeds in the ground and watch them grow. Did you know you can grow your own garlic just by putting a clove into the earth? We are gonna plant flowers for bees and other insects, veggies and fragant herbs. Right now the tomatoes are enjoying the warmth of our miniature green house. What a delight to wake up every morning and see how much they’ve grown!
I sit down on a bench overlooking the lake and watch the turtles basking in the sunlight on this first day of spring. Small ripples move over the water towards the bank. Everywhere around me the birds are chirping. How I enjoy the quietness of nature! It makes me feel completely at ease. Why, I wonder, is it so hard for me to let myself be? Instead of following my own rhythm, I keep falling into the same trap of not accepting myself and respecting my needs. I want so much to be like everyone else, to go to a cool festival, meet new people, stay up late, join in the fun… except that it’s not fun for me. A tiny fly lands on my hand as I’m writing in my notebook. What a perfect creature he is. I wonder if he longs to be in the water with the turtles? Probably not, he seems quite content to be just the way he is. So why can’t I? Being different in itself isn’t the problem, it’s wanting to be something I’m not and the frustration that comes with it, that is causing this tension. Now breathe, relax, let go…
Autumn is a time when the leaves start to change colour. As they start to whirl down one by one, they remind us that it’s time to take a step back and slow down. The endless summer nights long gone, and with every day the evenings get a bit darker. This season shows us how beautiful it is to let things go. I always think that means that it’s a perfect time to curl up on the sofa with a good book, warm and cosy inside, and allow myself to rest. But letting go is also an active process. It asks that you release your hold on things that no longer serve you and that you restore your equilibrium. So whenever I fall into a state of slumber, I remind myself that it’s important to keep doing the things that give me new energy. Whether it is writing in my journal, going for a long, beautiful walk in the woods, or doing a gentle meditation practice down by the river.
Only three months ago I was sailing smoothly along the shore, legs stretched out on the bow, hands folded behind my head, relaxing in the sunshine, blue skies all around. I had a nice day job, a place to call my own, a furry companion and I was ready to find new love. Cut to stormy weather at sea, dark clouds everywhere, me over here barely hanging on to the stern of the boat, treading water as I wonder how much more I can stomach. How am I supposed to adopt a cat when I’ve just buried one, has anyone seen my date, I thought these demons were a thing of the past, and without a temp job can I even afford my home? At least I can always count on my anxiety to keep me company through difficult times! But the one thing that I realised, after swallowing another gulp of water, is that I may be on the outside of the boat right now, wondering where port side is, but I am still the captain of this ship. I am the one looking at the stars and navigating these waters, no matter how murky they get. As soon as I realised that, I felt really calm. As Ovid wrote in Metamorphoses: saevis tranquillus in undis. Calm amidst the raging waves…
Today, seperated from my love, I am
Without companion, sweetheart and friend, I am
The one who did not sleep in the darkness of night, I am
In short, entangled in every sorrow, I am.
– Nasibi Gilani
For the past seven months my beautiful Jet and I have been inseparable. Every morning she’d wake me up at sunrise, wait for me to finish my tai chi practice, rush to the sofa in the living room (brush time please!), cuddle up on my chest whenever I’d sit down, wait for me to come home and fall sleep in my arms at night, her soft nose pressed against my cheek. And now, out of the blue, this sweet creature, light of my life, is gone. Leaving me with nothing but memories. I will always remember that she was so scared on one of our last visits to the vet that she stuck her little head underneath my jumper, hiding in the safety of my embrace. It melted my heart to see how much she came to trust me, this little rescue animal, in the short period that I knew her. Faced with an emptiness that cannot be filled, I lost faith that there is always light to be found in the darkness. Overwhelmed with grief and feeling utterly defeated, I questioned everything. What’s the point in trying when we are all going to die anyway? But like the phoenix rising from the ashes, I too must start over. And so, with a saddened heart, I set out to rebuild all dreams lost.