A friend recently told me I need more balance in my life, and she finally gave voice to the word I didn't know I was searching for.
It's been obvious for the last couple of years that I'm spending too much time sitting at my desk and far too much time saying, "I'm so busy!" Not wearing my busyness like a badge of armour, martyring myself for some internal image of my life; I just was/ am really busy, juggling three jobs. Not balancing -- feeling like I was trying to keep three balls in the air and really wanting not to cut back on the balls but to stop juggling completely. I still had my walks, I still got out into nature, I still spent time away from my phone, but it was clear I needed to manage my time and my tasks better because there are things I want to be doing -- drawing, painting, and gardening -- that just weren't getting picked up.
Listen, I even bought a sketchbook in January with the plan to teach myself the drawings for a children's book I'm working on. The plan was simple: Draw the same picture once every day.
Haven't even opened the sketchbook yet.
Cue the pandemic. Suddenly, time slowed, the days melded into each other, and I went from three jobs to one.
Our spring has been very dry, compared to the spring of 2019 which was a long, wet, cold season so there was little motivation to be in the gardens. In April, I started going outside to rake the yard every evening after supper because I really felt the need to be outside. First the virus and resulting state of emergency, then the season of Lent (which challenges us to take a long, hard look at our lives), then the mass killings... I had to get away from my desk, I had to shut my brain down.
And as I raked, I remembered how therapeutic physical labour can be. I remembered the satisfaction of seeing immediate results: tidy garden beds and piles of leaves and sticks. I remembered what I'd been missing -- the work and the gardens, but more importantly, that word: Balance.
Balance is not something that simply exists, something that just happens. Balance needs to be created. We lose balance, it's up to us to find balance again.
My walks through the field and woods are about my brain; gardening is about my body. Getting out of my brain and into my body. Working out the kinks of sitting all day by creating new kinks. Another point about turning 50: My hamstrings aren't making the transition from sitting to wheelbarrowing quite as easily as they did ten years ago.
I still haven't started drawing or painting, but the strawberry plants are in their hanging baskets, the marigolds are planted under the orange blossom bushes (in attempt to win the war against the aphids), and I'm digging a new herb garden.
Busier than ever! Like Albert Einstein said, "Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving."
But this is the right kind of busy: the balance between words and worms, digging into stories and digging in the dirt, planting ideas and planting seeds.
Finding balance means being more efficient with my time, and I find being busier makes me use my time better. In fact, the more I want/need to accomplish in a day, the more efficiently I use my hours, and at the end of the day, THAT makes me feel really good. To get it right.
And once the gardens are growing, I'll learn to balance weeding and watering with sketching. Perhaps the trick is to take the sketchbook into the garden...