2012 July 4 Being Here Now
Sometimes my experience of the beauty in the garden is so intense it is painful. I will explore some reasons for the pain.
“Be Here Now” was the title of a book by Ram Dass in the 1970’s, and an ongoing theme of learning in our lives. “Be here now” is essentially the goal of meditation methods I’ve learned. I believe that being totally in the present moment is essential for health and healing. Some of the pain of the beauty of the garden, I am coming to think, is about ways in which we allow ourselves to NOT be here fully present to the moment.
This summer I have been attempting to advance my skills and awareness at “being here now” by focusing on nature. Very dominant in the past two weeks has been the record-breaking heat. I spend some time each day outdoors when it is really hot. Feel the heat. Empathize with the trees and plants and insects and wildlife.
“Being here now” in the garden includes observing bees and butterflies pollinating the flowers that are blooming now — beebalm (monarda), daylillies, echinacea, butterfly weed, and many others. Hearing the buzz of the bees. Feeling the heat on one’s damp skin. Seeing the intensity of the sunlight on and around the bright colors.
So often in the garden my mind goes immediately to tasks to be done there: clumps to be divided and moved to other locations in autumn; plants that MUST be watered; places where autumn-flowering plants would be nice to add; unknown species to research and label; tall stalks bending over that would benefit from staking; a path to put wood chips on. But “being here now” discipline in the garden allows those to-do thoughts to just rise, be noted, and float away so that the awareness can return to here now.
I think part of the pain in the glory of the garden is about the fear of loss. Each day in the garden is ephemeral. Each blossom will be lost in a day or two. The heat will dry up the lillies in a snap.
Sometimes my inclination in the garden, like when it’s 95 degrees outside, is to worry about the effects of the heat and drought on the soil and the plants and then wander into climate change and what I should be doing more to help people cope with it or change with it. Then wander to wanting more people to be in nature so they can feel and experience what we are doing to the planet with our human-dominating strategies.
Some of the pain of the beauty of the garden is in wanting everyone to have opportunity to share this. It is so important to me to share the experience of the garden with others, whether they are near and dear or simply passers by (of which we have almost none!) I have friends who are expert gardeners, and friends for whom it is “too hot” to stroll the garden. I strongly encourage all to experience some of the garden.