Endeavor

(from Zen Seeds; to endeavor is to focus single-mindedly and continually on doing good)

What demands care the loudest? What  happens when you ignore the quiet needs? What needs to be done next? How can I relax within this doing? Is it time to rest now? 

I am striving to till my own soil and leave furrows for all this life’s blessed imperfection to rest within.

When I can get out of my own way, I will chant, “I am an imperfect person, making imperfect choices in an imperfect world…” and then I can breathe a bit again and remember to feel into how my feet are touching the earth. I have found myself with some awfully awkward footing this past year: my feet as indicator species.

We are drifting through our season of relative wetness towards the Fall; giant yellow Swallowtail butterflies are every day in my view and with them hawk moths, hummingbirds and a lushness that is hard to recall in December. They are visual cues, signaling the thread of magic running through life, easy to forget when bogged down and distracted by the mundane imperfections of life.

I am constantly prodding the line between mindful, caregiving attention and letting what “needs to get done” become a hindrance to being present in my life. Two steps forward and three steps back, indeed, it comes up continually for me as a mother in the home. Should it really take me forty-five minutes of determined work to prepare the three of us to take a ten-minute car ride to the pool? (yes, every time, at least)

The list of To Do spins on ad infinitum and each task requires a degree of coming to rest. So yes, I water the plants when they are thirsty, but also I try to remember to kneel down and look my boy in the eyes when he speaks to me.

There is something deeply circular about life these days: I begin, I pause and assist, I come back, then become distracted by a more immediately pressing need. It strikes me as a feminine relation to reality, this spiraling and trusting. The time will come around again to work a bit more and maybe, maybe find an endpoint to a project.

I have been spending a lot of free time (as in: hands free) in my yard these days, manually ripping out weeds and creating spaces that can become mulched and softer for our feet to walk on, more lovely for our eyes to rest on. It is very tangible work, satisfying to mind and body and completed in a handful of sessions. I like it, too, because it is often definitely not the thing to do: when the sun shines too strongly on that patch of earth, I turn back to the kids or my notebook or the kitchen.

Choosing to endeavor, to focus single-mindedly on one thing is a practice of dedication. All else needs to drop away as the priority, but, oh it is hard to hold the crushing list of chores at bay. The overwhelm comes on thick these days and, until I remember to breathe, it thickens and suffocates my light. Or, we can take a walk outside and the chores fall away as we embrace the day’s possibilities: a simple answer that fits just right.

And then, what I want to cultivate for myself within those furrows and with the nourishment they provide: a dedicated time to daydream, to create, to improvise, to play. It’s the thing that does not look like a load of dirty laundry or sound like a hungry child, but it piles up inside me all the same and quietly requests some time in the sun.

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