Last weekend the sunshine was warm and bright, and I got out into the garden for the first time this year.
I am a rather sloppy, erratic gardener. I’ll spend all weekend doing bits and bobs, then abandon it completely for a while. Sometimes I love it, and sometimes I hate it.
Last weekend I repaired the net over the veg patch, planted some beetroot outside, planted all sorts of veg seeds inside, got some new potatoes into the ground, did some weeding, planted lots of flowers in pots, and went on several trips to the garden centre. I really enjoyed the things I did, and it led me to wonder why.
Hmm. I’ve been mulling this over, and the best way I can think of putting it is how ‘spacious’ I feel when I approach the garden. If I feel spacious, I approach one task at a time and I don’t feel phased by the 99 tasks yet to do. I notice the rich smell of the earth and the rosy pinks of the rhubarb shoots. Trying to fish the dead leaves from the icy water in the watering can becomes a game rather than an annoyance.
If I feel hurried, I want to get what I’m doing done as soon as possible so I can get on with all the other jobs nagging for my attention – both in the garden and in my office. I feel impatient with myself for not getting things ‘right’, and for the objects around for me for being so awkward and time-wasting. I feel like a pretty rubbish gardener with too much garden and too little time.
The first way of working is pottering, and the second is battling. Although it feels like I’m working more slowly when I’m pottering, everything seems to get done.
The same is true for my writing. To get my writing done, I need to clear the decks as far as possible, and calm myself as much as I can. I need to focus on the little bit I’m writing now, rather than thinking about the whole book at once (argh!). I need to be kind and encouraging to myself, whilst not letting myself off the hook. I need to relish the words.
How can we get better at pottering? I’d be interested in your thoughts. Maybe starting to catch ourselves when we’re speeding up can be helpful. Meditation is good for me. Here’s to a week of pottering.