Thursday morning and my deadline looms. How many times can you type a sentence only to erase it? I’ve been working on a world record this week.
What can be said about the garden that doesn’t immediately reek of triviality in a world facing a real threat of war? What is an arrogant rant or a surprised-by-snowdrops cliché in the face of such chaos? Three cloying paragraphs were written this morning before coffee, discarded shortly thereafter. I feel helpless, angry, protective, sickened, and simultaneously apologetic for my inability to access and share a spirit of lightheartedness.
Though the stakes are suddenly higher, this anxious, helpless feeling is sadly – tragically – not new to any of us. Two decades of 24-hour news cycles revealing fresh headlines on the half hour, and the proliferation – nay, increasing requirement – of smart phones to conduct daily life have seen to that. No matter how pure our motives, we are immersed. We are users. And we are so concurrently addled with binge-worthy entertainment on demand that the lines have begun to blur dangerously.
We accepted this path, strewn with inducements and goodies and dopamine. We fairly tripped over ourselves running at full speed. Refresh page. Refresh page. Refresh page.
And it would be one thing, if there was an end to it. But there isn’t. There won’t be. This ‘it’ will be replaced by another ‘it,’ as it has replaced the one before it. Existential threats, all – of course. Anything else is trivial. An endless string of ‘its,’ tearing us apart psychologically and then letting us loose on one other. Fingers poised, eyes bleary, human brain overcome. Go on. Refresh the bloody page.
But then there is this remarkable, resilient Earth. Separated from the invisible network that encircles it. I open my curtains this morning and gaze out on a bright sunny day, snowdrops and eranthis opening at the top of the drive, witchhazels blazing, hellebores emerging, ducks waddling by under my window, concerned by nothing more than the next worm sheltering under a succulent mass of new chickweed. Life is returning as we approach spring once again and miracles seem ten a penny.
There will be snowdrops in Kiev. In London. In Berlin. The World is a tumultuous place, and yet the Earth is a generous and reliable friend. How the hell to reconcile these conflicting spheres, one upon the other?
Though I have wrestled with myself this morning – all week in fact – my heart tells me that gardeners are not dealing in trivialities. The message of an awakening Earth is resonant, and those that are fortunate enough to tend it are uniquely positioned to recognize that message in an excruciatingly connected World.
It pulls us back to certainties – and not certainties of frost dates or cold winters or average daily temperatures which are far from certain. It’s proof of life itself. Rebirth. Restoration. Adaptation. Resolve. It will not solve our conflicts, but it allows the mind to take a step back in processing them.
Gratitude for what joy befalls us. Hope for joy to come. Courage in the face of struggle.
A chance to thoroughly unplug yet remain connected. To reclaim some tiny measure of buffer that we foolishly gave up in the pursuit of immediacy. No this is not a trivial message. It’s the message of the poppies on the Somme. It’s the message of sunflowers with faces tracking the sun. It’s a true refreshing of the page. Thank God for such trivialities. Let’s share them with one another and feel our hearts grow lighter in the process. – MW