Monday, June 1, 2009

From tomatoes to zen

Sometimes you've just got to get your hands dirty and the tomato plants just have to get in the ground. I love home grown tomatoes, but gardening has never been a particular skill of mine. When I discovered that a series of events had conspired to prevent the lovely 20' x 30' garden from being planted just off my deck -- I determined I just couldn't let that happen. So I put on gloves to hide my brown thumb and set about pulling the massive hump of running vines and weeds in the garden plot. Planting struggling tomato plants was something I'd been putting off, and I wish now I hadn't delayed such an opportunity for happiness.

My son had a small trowel and was helping me along. Loosen the dirt, twist, cut and turn, ... loosen the dirt, twist, cut and turn. The process was so focused that I didn't notice the time or mind the energy. I remembered a meditation class (paid for and enjoyed) and wondered about the similarity to activities of my home that develop that same peaceful, productive, smooth and easy pattern. When I combine music and dishes I focus on the task of clearing away the remains of the past and wiping the plate clean for the next opportunity that comes along. Vacuuming brings my eye to the base of my home, where I place my steps in a sea of woven thoughts and examine the pieces that support my world. I am walking in this world lightly, with clean socks and a clear mind thanks mostly to the vacuuming. I haven't yet found my peaceful inner duster, but I have hopes!

The zen of housework sounds counter intuitive when the going paradigm is to avoid the drudgery of everyday scrubbing. Every month seems to bring with it new and interesting tools to shorten the time it takes to do laundry, dishes, or dusting. Like a consuming chant from the commercials comes "get it done in half the time," but I'm not quite sure I want all that meditation time taken away from me. What is it, exactly, that I'm rushing so hard to get to? My constant answer to such questions is that I need more time with my son. Or is that really it? Whenever I find a shortcut I never quite get the savings out of that labor saving device I'd expected. So I've stopped finding new devices and just started living with the time I have available.

I needed to plant the tomatoes this morning and my son worked right along with me, breaking up the clumps of dirt and covering up the roots as the plants found their new homes. I didn't use the tiller and maybe the task took a little longer and wasn't as impressive, but the plants found their grounding in the scratched out garden corner we made. In an amazing turn of events I even got the missing time with my son despite the use of hand tools and people power. Funny how that worked out.

Now I'm looking forward to my afternoon laundry. My son will help me move the laundry from inside to outside and we will chat as I reach into a basket for cool damp clothes and hang them along the line under my pavilion. I feel as if I am finally getting things done and being involved in my world. The time with my son or alone with my heart is hard to beat. The moral superiority of reducing my ecological footprint is bordering on smug, but its ultimately my immersion in the rhythm of my world that I champion as the success of my day. It helps a little that I haven't spent money on that nifty tool or this plastic piece and yet I've gained time, connection, tomatoes, and a sense of what I'm capable of doing.

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