Tell about it.” – Mary Oliver
I sit in my backyard, feeling the morning sun warm my face, listening to the echoing song of a wood thrush, smelling the scent of water and warming earth drifting over a light breeze. I remember the sound of lake water lapping the shore where we summered, the crack and pop of the fireplace on chilly mornings where my Da and I would have breakfast together before anyone else woke up, the distant boom of thunder, the smell of rain in the air, the smell of Fall approaching.
I have vivid memories from my childhood of long, languid days exploring and discovering the natural world around me. My father was key to this inclination, having taken me on many hikes armed with Golden Nature Guides and showing me how to identify the plants, fungi and creatures that lived in that secret world around human existence. We raised tadpoles to frogs in an old wheelbarrow, fed the raccoons, collected skulls and other treasures left behind by the process of life. We rowed out onto lakes to watch the Perseid meteor showers every August. Once he even took apart our entire plumbing system in the basement trying to save a black snake that had gotten down the bathtub drain (he was successful). He scooped up spiders and put them outside, bought yellow lights for the back porch so the Luna Moths could find each other. His teachings were infused with a reverence for the natural world that became the bedrock of the person I would become. He nurtured my innate curiosity (that precious curiosity all children possess) by leaving art supplies on my bed for me to find and encouraging me to be careful and gentle but not fearful of the life that exists under logs and rocks and old wooden docks. My life was deeply influenced by Da’s alchemy, I remain steadfastly in love with nature.
This summer marks two years since the world went into lockdown in response to Covid-19. The Fall before the pandemic hit I had left a toxic job and started my own business which had done relatively well until the lockdown. While that enterprise did not survive, it was a much-needed escape hatch from a bad place and severe burnout. Then the world shut down – for the first time in 30 years I had time and those ethereal days from my childhood came back to visit. I spent many summer days sitting in the Adirondack chair out in the yard just watching life go on around me, literally watching the grass grow and it was glorious. I am an introvert by nature, and years of having to go out into the world had taken a heavy toll. Being able to just STOP was a gift (though I was deeply aware of the collective sorrow flooding around me). I have been loathe to let that life, where time is abundant and the pace deliberate, be taken from me and for me to be cast back into the chaos that is the modern world. Two years down the road and a myriad of adjustments later, I have managed to create a life somewhat more balanced – deep not wide.
I sit and watch what comes and goes, watch the light change into dapples and shadows as the sun makes its arc, feel the breeze on my face and my breathing deepens and I realize even now, with things much improved, how tense I still hold myself as I begin to let go and relax. My creativity no longer takes a back seat but is now central to my daily life. I am guarding this new life fiercely, determined to find a way to stay balanced.
Even my work with the dogs has relaxed its pace. We still train – but more for enrichment and fun. I love that they can do the “work” and enjoy the game, should anyone ever need our help when we are out hiking, we know exactly what to do. But the “mission critical” intense pace I used to insist on is gone. Our hikes have more pauses and rests, time for pictures and snacks. Time just being with them, savoring every moment.
These days I channel my energy into creative endeavors – Cù Ruadh is gaining momentum and I am excited to see it coming together. Being able to honor Casey’s memory in this way and at long last embrace an artistic life generates healing on every level. But it is not a frenetic, hectic momentum – creativity has ebbs and flows, cycles, weavings and often requires stillness to assume its many forms. So one day it may be writing for this blog, another making clay salamanders, yet another working on new music. What happens and when becomes instinctual and you must set the intellectual and linear aside in favor of webs, spirals and ripples.
Einstein’s Theory of Relativity determined that time is relative— the rate at which time passes depends on your frame of reference. Physicists will try to explain that time itself does not move but allows things to move through it, it is neither circular nor linear -it allows patterns to exist. If that is the case, then it is reasonable to suggest that building a frame of reference that suits you is vital to matching the pace of your life with the heartbeat of your spirit.
“Nature does not hurry- yet everything is accomplished” – Lao Tzu