Thursday, April 5, 2012

The pace of natural life

Throughout my life, the therapeutic benefits of gardening have improved my quality of life tremendously—especially in this era of transition, change and movement. The fresh air, feel of the soil and sight of the seedlings arriving to the world are all incredibly calming to me. Nights of deep, uninterrupted sleep—thanks to the physical labor needed to maintain a spring garden—remind me of another reason of why I garden.

Perhaps the reason why I appreciate gardening the most is that it has taught me patience, which corresponds to many other areas of my life, including my business and relationships. Waiting for seeds to emerge, tomatoes to ripen, and asparagus to be harvested (that takes three years of patience!) has opened my eyes to the slower pace of natural life.

Over a recent potluck dinner, I discussed with friends my discovery of how long it takes for visions to be realized. They too are small business owners and know well the frustration of wanting to move quickly through their goals, although the realistic pace is much slower than they expected. Often in the first year of business, owners spend just as much time shutting doors as they do opening windows.

Working in the garden—when there's often only a month-long time frame to get it right until next year—helps me realize how good ideas take time to become reality. If we have patience, the long-awaited rewards are appreciated even more so than if they had manifested immediately. If we try to pack too many projects in that month time-frame, we'll most likely come out the other side disappointed.

This spring, I learned yet more lessons from the garden—flexibility, efficiency and speed when the time is right. I had to move at the pace of a tornado this spring as the May-like weather in March had me weeding and mulching in areas that I usually don't touch until late April. I rearranged my garden plan, so that the heat-sensitive crops would claim the part-shade area that I usually reserve for summer greens.

As business owners, we must be prepared to run when the situation demands. Since we've spent all that time in patience, movement should not be too much of a burden. But if we've been chasing our tails before we even left the starting blocks, then having enough energy to reach the finish line will be a challenge.

Sometimes there's an ecological need for violent storms. But for the most part, I equate health with ease, calm, predictability and a sustainable pace. If we're operating any other way—that usually means something is out of balance.

Instead of worrying excessively about the Earth's imbalance that caused this early summer weather, I will enjoy the blueberries and strawberries that are already appearing, a good month ahead of schedule. I trust the Earth is returning to balance at its own pace.

However, I do think the Earth's most immediate health is dependent on us, as we relearn balance, moderation and stability. I wonder if that will happen or if we'll continue with a frantic pace.

I hope you are experiencing balance in the garden this spring.