It’s the oldest pun in the world, but it’s STILL TRUE. Being present yields amazing presents. Giving ourselves the gift of focusing on just one thing, being right there with it, is hard but necessary if we want to be part of the magic. Examples:
At the Common Ground Fair yesterday, a speaker was working with a huge and restless horse, an absolute beauty of a beast who apparently has great nervousness. The speaker told how he came to get this horse after others gave up on it, and he was only able to work with it when he could focus himself entirely on the horse. Any lapse, any straying, any half-assed efforts the horse could sense immediately and it would freeze up and refuse to cooperate. The owner had been able to work well with the horse and he told how it was even useful for him — though hard — to need to undertake this exercise. “How well he works with me,” the owner said, ” is in direct relationship to how completely focused I can be on him.”
My weekends are often full of lists and planning, but my favorite days are the ones when I am lost enough to not even HAVE a list. Those days I float from place to place and simply respond to where I am, open to what soothes me or irks me or wants to change. By being present with the space around me, I can see with new immediacy what I should be doing in the moment. And the results surprise me: the spice rack (a strange arrangement of small stacked painted crates bolted to the wall) got a much-needed cleaning and new contact paper; the space alongside the oven got cleaned and de-cluttered; mulch got laid; sweet woodruff got transplanted; a Barrington Belle peony got dug in; a few beds got weeded or fall-cleaned; potatoes got dug; carrots got pulled. Even the strawberry bed, which has been a short forest of self-sown feverfew all summer, got a thorough weeding — just the kind of chore I will work hard to avoid if it’s on a list, but when it just calls to me, well, I can answer.
The most glowing moment in a satisfying day (did I mention we started with zucchini/banana/flaxseed muffins and finished with homemade potato-leek soup?) came as I was rounding the last corner in the strawberry bed, reeking of feverfew and starting to get sore. Len was corralling the boys to go inside, and they wanted to give me a hug first, so they ran to me, barefoot and glowing in the early fall late afternoon. One boy in each arm; one sweet neck against each cheek. So much, so much. How could there be more?