Over the past year, my family as encountered a ton of change. Mostly it has been positive, and, for that, I am immensely grateful. It's nice for once not to be forced to operate in fight-or-flight mode. Here's the kicker though: having lived my life in a near constant state of emergency over the last several years, I've forgotten a few essential skills, namely patience and relaxation.
I've discovered that change is the only thing in life that's pretty much a guaranteed constant. In the middle of last year in the midst of all the other new goings-on, like moving into a new home and pending visits from family from multiple states, I was given another opportunity for change. I was offered the chance to cut my commute to my "regular" job in half, eliminate paying city income tax all together, and work with a whole new group of folks whom I barely knew but who seemed to treat each other like family. Not that I didn't love my old "office" and the people there, but I could feel the complacency setting in. I was getting too comfortable and that doesn't mix very well with my job description, so I chose to go and start all over with new faces and fresh challenges closer to home. The biggest challenge, however, would be my own. This new location is just different enough to have a much slower pace to nearly everything, so I knew going in I'd have to cultivate patience and settle down. And I pretty much suck at that, but I made the change for my own personal growth.
A great deal of my time at the job that pays my bills is spent sitting still, watching the world go by, and searching for a reason to spring into action. Trust me when I say that the greater the volume of people in the equation, the more interesting and entertaining this is. At the new place there are certainly fewer people and, at times, the sheer stillness of it all, which SHOULD be easier and more peaceful, grates on my nerves as the boredom becomes palpable and it hangs the air with the heaviness of summer humidity. Since I am so out of practice when it comes to relaxation and focus, I often find myself climbing the walls looking for distractions in my little 8x8 room all alone. Cultivating stillness, focus and patience in myself are why I came, but to be completely honest, it is the single most difficult thing I've had to learn at this job and I am struggling.
Growing a small farm and a writing business is a lot like growing as a person in that it takes tremendous amounts of time, much of it when it appears as if absolutely nothing happens. Winter is an excellent example of this. While the rest of the world rushes by in a flurry of holidays and chaos, the earth pulls up a blanket of snow around itself and rests. It waits. It relaxes from the bustle of the harvest and watches the world go by. It is still. Finally, when spring begins to arrive, it wakes up slowly, stretching and yawning with longer days and warmer temperatures. Nature doesn't rush seasons changing. Life unfolds in its own due time, as it should.
In contrast, I am the overexcited dog pacing at the patio door. I'm whining and frantic that I can't get there just yet, wherever "there" is, whether it's outside in the springtime growing things, starting the next writing project, finding the right people to watch or waiting for an answer to an email I've sent. I have no zen-like composure though I wish I did. I get swept along in the tide of this perceived business pace that probably only exists in my own wild imagination. I get carried off to nowhere fast in its strong currents, bored and wishing I could just relax and enjoy the ride.
Swimming upstream and struggling isn't something I enjoy, so why do I insist on doing it and let my ambition drive me? I'd much prefer to be dreaming my life away, and I am much more productive and creative when I do. Planting these seeds of stillness and patience through meditation is painful, but it's a skill that will serve me well. Even though it may look as if nothing is happening, it's just my winter. The seed is in the ground. I just have to let it grow. I just have to let it go.