You’re not supposed to water your garden at 2:30 in the afternoon on a hot summer day. But I did. There were no other options, as I saw it.
I was being fantastically unproductive at every task I attempted to turn my attention to. My mind continuously wandered off, seemingly of its own accord, to whatever it wished – from questioning why some people’s smiles show so much more of their gums than others to quantum entanglement theory and then over to real estate and Tylenol.
Together with my excellence in unproductivity I felt sad, like some kind of mourning for an-unknown-to-me loss.
To round out the experience into a full-on lame duck trifecta, I was also feeling exhausted. Did I have a strenuous workday of hard labour yesterday? Had I taxed my mental state to its dangerous edge? No and no. Yesterday was easy with simple tasks; pleasant almost.
Further confusing my logical leftbrain was the fact that I had slept well the night before and was reasonably hydrated and nourished.
None of it added up to feeling like a depressed mope who can neither keep her thoughts straight nor find a morsel of inspiration, let alone motivation.
I wanted to go to bed. I wasn’t tired or in need of sleep, but I was exhausted on some invisible level. Some level that if you told your doctor about it they’d send you to the loony bin and the gym while they sighed and silently wrote in their notes that I had manufactured it all in my head.
Why was I being so dramatic? I considered throwing a fit or crying. But neither option appealed much since a fit—a good one, at least—would take a considerable amount of energy, which I didn’t have; and to cry would be indulgent and I didn’t want to ‘give-in’ to my lame duck trifecta.
I wobbled there, on the line dividing wallowing from just pushing through it (aka: denial). Shouldn’t that middle line be balance? My leftbrain thought so but my experience proved otherwise.
The wobble grew intolerable and I wanted out of my own skin. I ate cooled orzo pasta, some bits of feta cheese, and paced.
Someone in my head (who didn’t sound like me because she was far more wise) convinced me—without any discussion—to go water the plants in the yard. She knew that connecting with the natural world would help me feel grounded. She knew that mundane, physical tasks let my spinning mind rest. She knew I needed to snap out of it and to shake off that uninvited sadness.
She found my lime green flip flops and put them on me and took us outside into the summer. Mostly it was her who watered my parched plants. I was busy staring at nothing—that blank, unblinking gaze that has no fixed point of focus and no matter the surrounding distraction, is relentlessly unmoving.
But then I noticed something. A pale pink rose in bursting bloom was reaching across the spent peonies and over to me on the walkway.
So I stopped to smell the roses.
And I watered and I watered. We all perked up. I heard myself singing a made-up rhyme as I switched the hose nozzle head between the mist and shower settings depending on the delicacy of the flowers I watered.
I stood in the sunshine, helping my plants feel better and become stronger and they returned the favour. Of course, they had much more to offer me than I could receive, but I took in what I could.
My dirt therapy session resuscitated me just enough to bring me here, to the page, pen in hand. And helped me remember that it’s not always important what I write, just that I write.
I couldn’t do those other tasks this morning. It was indeed impossible to be productive because those weren’t the tasks that needed doing. And I was sad, or, more accurately, my writer was sad because I had neglected her for weeks, choosing instead what I thought were practical tasks to strike off my to-do list.
As it turns out, denying part of myself is enough to send me off the rails—which, as I see it, is the least practical of all options… Of course we can be hydrated, nourished, well-rested and have tasks crossed off our lists, but if an integral part of who we are isn’t being valued and expressed, are we truly alive?
…Now, how to get the left-brain on-board for what it thinks are whimsical, impractical tasks? If you have a trick for advocating for the invisible parts of self, I’d love to hear it.
P.S. This writing feels sluggish, long-winded and blech…. but I needed to burp it out and rescue my writer.
Original image © Glamorous Monk
« Ernie’s Flowers. . . . . . . or . . . . . . I’m here. »