Friday, February 13, 2009


SLOW LEARNING


Preparing my garden seed list puts me once again in mind of how much learning there is to be done, if you're out to get an education. The garden is just one example-- maybe the best example, apart from the University of Parenthood, which not everyone attends, though anyone can have a garden.

The most valuable experience the garden imparts - aside from the miraculous lessons of seeds and growth - is the exercising of slow knowledge, which seeds already know and so do you, deep down in your roots, the kind of knowledge that doesn't move before it's time, knowledge you can't recall if hurry is your way of life.

This is the same lesson that children, grandchildren and the face in the mirror teach to whomever takes the time to stop and see. So it is with a garden: you go out to the earth and you genuflect. Like a child, the earth requires that you come to its level.

In fact you are kneeling to your own future roots, where at the moment there may be weeds or bigger things; then you clear and till, seed and tend, then weed and nurture again in the various ways that growth demands, you watch the sky for rain and protect the stalks from wind, much as you do in their ways for those you love and for your regular people relations, except this is between you alone and all the earth and sky.

The big lesson is about time: not what it is or what it means, but what of it is yours and what to do with it, how to fill it and apportion it, how not to yearn to do everything at once, as desire wants. Those remaining unseeded or unweeded rows call to you for tending even at the end of day, but you will do it tomorrow, and you do it tomorrow, and over time you slip into the time of the garden, much as you're slowly growing with the firewood stack.

Slow is the key, slow at the core, a bit of each in its time and its way, as you learn how to advance at just the right pace to achieve continual progress at a healthy measure for body and mind, have everything converge at just the right points along the seasons, and therein discover a new pleasure for your days, one that was never thought of back when you were racing through youth like a tomorrowless comet-- what delight was waiting ahead after all, just beyond the row of carrots...

You've learned what is called slow, to go at the speed of nature, to move naturally at the pace your deeper heart desires, a pace we have forgotten in our virtually advanced societies, but not in our hearts, bones and spirits, a pace and its attendant knowledge that is still and always there, waiting for us each to slow enough to seek and see it, get in deep sync and realize it once more in humanity's long garden-- and how you learn, then!

If you're out to get an education.

4 comments:

Alice said...

I read so many bloggers who are clearly uncomfortable with their own natural progression in the garden of life. I want to tell them something about learning to live because it's all there inside us if we'll shut up and listen, but somehow I never know quite the words to say. From now on, I think I should refer them to this post. It says far better than I ever could.

Suzann said...

Bob - as always you move my soul and write such spirit-filled reflections and observations. Thank you

Bob Brady said...

Thanks, Alice and Suzann; just sharing from the garden...

Delwyn said...

I love your image of genuflecting to the earth...and I love this time of early autumn in my life when I can afford to take my time and really look around me, put my hands in the soil, watch a heron step- left- right- left - with all the time in the world...

I have a mantra now that I pull out whenever I think I should have done something sooner and it is..

"I have the rest of my life to do that..."