Everything must be carried to term before it is born…These things cannot be measured by time, a year has no meaning, and ten years are nothing. To be an artist means: not to calculate and count; to grow and ripen like a tree which does not hurry the flow of its sap and stands at ease in the spring gales without fearing that no summer may follow. It will come. But it comes only to those who are patient, who are simply there in their vast, quiet tranquility, as if eternity lay before them. It is a lesson I learn every day amid hardships I am thankful for: patience is all!
Rainer Maria Rilke
This morning I gathered leaves and flowers from my herb garden and spread them out to dry. I chopped up some plants that were dying back, put them in a bucket and covered them with water, to make a nourishing tea for other plants. Later I will cut some spinach and put it in a quiche. It is spring here, and the garden is full of nasturtiums rambling uninvited over everything, bright flowers, tomatoes coming up in odd places and more weeds than I can ever manage properly. I think it is beautiful; it’s not a neat, manicured garden. But I love it; I am learning to enjoy simply being in it, and to be a co-creator of an unfolding process of which I am a part. I have given up trying to make everything fit into a vision that I have created. Instead I have entered into a conversation with this little piece of land. I don’t know what it will look like in the months to come, but that no longer matters.
I have written much in the last year about the season of transition in which I find myself. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to work out a series of clear steps forward. I’ve taken a few of those steps. Some have led where I expected, others have not. Some seem to have disappeared; I look back and they’re gone and I have to start again. I’ve learned so much about myself, about what works for me and about what I really want (as opposed to what I thought I wanted).
And now it is November, only weeks to Christmas. I look back on ten months of change and turmoil, of leaping into new opportunities and seeing where they lead. We’ve experienced our children leaving home, moving house, and the increasingly fragile health of loved ones. It has taken so long for me to realise that there is almost never a clear way forward. There is only today. I need to gather all I know and love and care about, and make of that a kind of framework for making decisions, trusting that the path will unfold.
I will make mistakes, and things will sometimes unravel. I used to think that this meant that I’d failed, missed the perfect plan. I think now that there is no perfect plan, only a gradual movement towards wholeness. The missteps and detours are part of that journey. I am becoming more curious now, more willing to take risks, more comfortable with confusion and not knowing, and with difficult feelings. I cry a lot more; I laugh a lot more too. Like my garden, I can’t say what my life will look like this time next year, and that no longer troubles me. I am happy to give up on constantly trying to clip the edges of my life straight, to pull every weed.