yoga with pets

What a Gardener Taught Me About Letting Go

I’ve lived in condos and apartments all my life, so I’ve never had my own garden. But the properties I lived at required upkeep, and on Fridays, the strident music of machines and the pungent smell of freshly cut grass would invade my open windows.

I have great respect for those who can care for the earth in such a way that it responds. I was thinking about this the other day when I was walking down the happening street in my neighborhood. Two women were pulling weeds out of the sweet urban garden in front of a Yoga studio, expertly yanking this and that to cultivate life.

There were two stories I was obsessed with growing up, and they both involved gardens.

the secret garden hardcover

As a little girl, I used to save my allowance and lunch money (yes, by going hungry) so I could go to the mall. I usually made a beeline for the bookstore, and one day, a gorgeous hardcover of The Secret Garden was perched on top of a shelf.

I happily spent all of my money on it. And I read it over and over again, never tiring of the magical story.

Then, there was the movie Edward Scissorhands. My grandmother was actually an Avon lady, so it was entertaining to see the way they weaved that comedic occupation into the storyline.

However, I couldn’t understand why more people didn’t create art the way Edward Scissorhands did with the shrubs and trees. I still don’t. Imagine how incredible it would be to walk down a street with green unicorns, dinosaurs, giraffes, swans, and children inhabiting every yard.

I guess it all comes down to losing our sense of awe as we get older. Whimsical things are pushed aside, and the acceptable “adult” things take precedence. Because the guy with the shrub safari in his front yard would be pretty ballsy, am I right?

I’m not over-the-hill in my thirties, I understand this. What’s tricky about your thirties is that you’re an adult now. When you’re in your twenties, you don’t know what the hell’s going on, but you play along and pretend you’re figuring things out even when you’re lost as shit.

In your thirties, hopefully you somewhat have your shit together—in a place that makes you sing, on a career path that challenges you, surrounded by genuine people you want to continue investing your time in.

But, what about the awe? Do you still have it? Or, did you lose it along the way?

Often I feel like I’m struggling to hold onto it, to continue marveling at life when the days keep flying by, faster and faster. I try to slow it down, I try to stop and notice. Somehow it’s alarmingly easy to go with it—and suddenly you realize a year has passed. A year.

So, one Friday this summer me and Mr. H took a sanity day to hang out around the house and just be. I was determined to do a 90-minute Yoga class, something I rarely have time for as I’m squeezing in 30-60 minute classes throughout my hectic week.

I had just started my practice, and I was centering myself. Then, wouldn’t you know it?

The gardening equipment struck up in our courtyard, a symphony of shrill that—despite my serene start—pissed me right off.

It was Friday. I’m never home on Fridays. And just like every other apartment I’ve lived in, Fridays are gardening day.

I live in the city, so getting bent out of shape over any noise when meditating or practicing Yoga is silly, I know. It’s a control thing. I have this time that I want things to be a certain way, quiet and peaceful, because I’m trying to de-stress, dammit!

But that Friday, it was gardening day.

I had two choices. I could give up my Yoga practice, try again when the coveted quiet, peaceful setting was more attainable. Or, I could get over it, and continue with the racket outside my window.

I decided on choice #2. I thought it was perfect actually, because it complemented the past month of craziness I had experienced in my life, especially at work—the struggle to remain calm in the chaos.

So, I worked with it. Every time my irritation rose, I breathed deeper. Every time I wanted to give up, I kept moving.

Because at the end of the day, there is very little we can control. Rather than getting upset, we can find the correlation between the emotional instigator and a tough situation in our lives.

I’m not saying it’s easy, because it’s not. Once you begin to recognize this, believe it or not, life gets easier.

yoga hip opener
Lizard Pose

Anyway about halfway through my practice, I was in one of the Yoga poses I truly struggle with…Utthan Pristhasana (Lizard Pose).

I know what you’re thinking.

I’m a Yogi, I’m not supposed to hate. Well I kinda hate this mofo pose, because it’s one of the most evil hip openers out there. The heat rises within me and I want to run away from my mat, never to return.

Lizard Pose took a strange turn this time. When I looked up, cursing under my breath with a cat on my back, there was the gardener—standing in front of my window with his leaf blower.

Do you know what the guy did? He smiled at me and waved.

I did the same, somewhat awkwardly as you can imagine.

Then, he went on his way.

I laughed. I laughed at myself, at my ridiculous attitude. The carefree gardener was like, “Hey, this is kinda weird but kinda awesome.”

And, he was right.

47 thoughts on “What a Gardener Taught Me About Letting Go

  1. Gosh, yes so recognizable.. haha, the space in between how we want it to be and how it finally turns out can be prrretty frustrating.
    And huh..between you and me.. I’m well in my fourties and still haven’t got my shit together. On the contrary I feel sometimes more shit is hitting the fan 😀 but hopefully I’m getting better equipped in handling it.

    1. I know I’m not alone with the space in between—damn you, expectations!

      You’re doing great, honey. The Yoga/meditation/wellness things we do definitely mean something about handling life.

  2. My typical, lame guy comment is that I’ll bet the Gardner wasn’t looking at the cat. ; )

    And on my word did these words hit home…

    “But, what about the awe? Do you still have it? Or, did you lose it along the way? Often I feel like I’m struggling to hold onto it, to continue marveling at life when the days keep flying by, faster and faster. I try to slow it down,”

    It is such a struggle to not grow old in mind and spirit. When you find out the secret to this, will you share it?!

    1. Ha, I doubt there’s just one secret to not growing old in mind and spirit! I could be wrong, but I have a sneaky feeling it’s something we have to keep working at in ALL aspects of our lives.

  3. Topiary is fun but I wanted a wildflower meadow on my mini-section, so I planted one. It’s wild, and not very proper by Christchurch standards. Birds love it, I love it, bees love it, the neighbor’s cat loves it… that’s all that matters. Noise….hmmmm……loved the way you accommodated it. I have trouble with audible distractions. And the encounter with the gardener was priceless.

    1. Ooh, I like the wildflower meadow. Dang, my garden is going to be psychotic one day—I want topiary, a secret garden, and a wildflower meadow now!

      I’ve always struggled with noise too. Living in the city is a constant practice for me.

      1. Your one day garden will be brilliant. It will have a lovers bench for sure. And a view. Btw I adored The Secret Garden. But I only realised just last week that Frances Hodgson Burnett spent much of her life in the US. This weekend we have the opportunity to see a film based on one of her adult books. Not sure if I will watch. I am not really a fan of the macabre.

  4. I agree — anyone who can take care of the earth so that it responds gets a round of applause from me! I try to garden, but I’m not very good at it. Mainly my problem is that I don’t have enough time. Cultivating a garden is like cultivating a family, and both are full-time jobs, neither of which pay, so you have to add a third or fourth or fifth job to cover your ass so you have enough money to cultivate your garden and/or your family!!

    I love that your cat climbs on your back while you’re doing yoga. Whenever I try to do my floor exercises, both my cats and my dog snuggle right up to me and try to get on me too. What is it with pets!?!

    1. Gardening is super time-consuming! You definitely have to love doing it. I think it’s even more appealing to me now, because I crave more time away from a computer screen. Too much of our lives is spent on devices now.

      Pets are crazy, aren’t they? I think any time we get down on the floor, we’re fair snuggle game. 😉

  5. Okay, just looking at that photo of the Lizard pose made my hips hurt. 😉 I love gardens, and my husband and I may have gone overboard on preparing a new bed in the backyard for next year— 43 by 6.5 feet in size. But the thought of how much the birds, bees, and butterflies will enjoy it is calming, too. I’ll just try not to think of the sore muscles that will be involved in getting everything planted. 🙂

    1. Lizard pose is no joke for me. Others can plop right into it and say: Hey, what’s the big deal? That’s the interesting thing about Yoga—no two bodies are the same!

      No such thing as an overboard garden to me! You’ll have to share pix of it with us one day.

  6. Awe. It does seem so hard to maintain, nice to hear someone else share their ideas on the subject. I agree more topiary art would joy things up 🙂

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