One of the main reasons people don’t garden, I suspect, is simply a lack of time. Actually, lack of time is probably the single most common reason that many of us don’t do so many of the things we would like to do. Most people would like to slow down and spend a bit more time on things they care about, but just can’t see their way to it. So isn’t taking your time while gardening simply another example of wishful thinking?
Well, I’m not actually suggesting that you take more time to work in the garden than you already do, or that you merely do everything more slowly. What I’m really saying is that the way you approach gardening will in fact affect how much time you have. We all know that time flies when you’re having fun. But haven’t you also noticed that when you take your time over something, the time stretches out around you like a warm summer day with no deadlines in it? The intent focus that comes with doing something with care muffles the ticking of the clock, or perhaps transforms that ticking into the sound of abundance rather than merely seconds slipping away.
When I was starting seeds a few weeks ago, I started by carefully making a hollow in the soil with my finger, placing a single seed in it, and gently covering it up. After planting several varieties, seed by seed, I suddenly became impatient with the tiny snapdragon seeds I was planting, and irritably scattered them into the soil with a sudden dive into abruptness. The result was a predictable minor bitterness of spirit in the form of mild regret. My snapdragons have come up unevenly bunched and oddly placed. They may be healthy enough, but they show in their stature that they were not started with care. The attitude in which I planted them, rather than the placement of the seeds, is at issue here. If I had chosen to start the seeds by random scattering, I still would have liked to do it attentively.
I thought about this incident a lot over the next weeks. Regret is something that shouldn’t have a place in gardening. One of the best things about gardening is the ability to start fresh every year, to turn death into life through the magic of compost. I know that many people find weeding to be a meditative task. Maybe all of gardening can be seen as a form of meditation. Even if we choose to be somewhat haphazard in our approach to gardening, attending deeply to what we do in the garden can bring health and growth to our inner selves as well as to the plants we tend.
So take your time. Even if you have only a minute or two to give to a gardening task, do it with care and attention. You may find that your time is worth more than you thought.