Plants (or people, plans, or projects) that are forced
A good friend has taken up a powerful new mantra for her life: Just slow down. Slow down. Slow down. It seems she has been rushing about in too vigorous a way, pushing herself relentlessly from the inside to get this task done, that thing completed, the garden readied for winter, and on and on. Perhaps you can relate to such a harried scenario or pace as well. She has been driving herself to “gulp” down too much too quickly, literally and symbolically. So much so that her heart gave her a quick but effective wake up with an episode of the “flutteries” and the message to slow it down. There is no hurry.
It is all too easy to get into a production mode, something I find myself getting trapped in. There is a huge qualitative difference between how it feels to be in the process of focusing on one task at a time, properly attending to it with thoughtful regard, as opposed to revving the already racing engine inside (the inner voice and whip of the taskmaster) to get more and more done in less time by skimming through a multitude of jobs, chores, or projects. Sadly, a neighbor mentioned today how nice it would be to get together to visit, but she finds herself consumed with busy doing rather than happy “beingness,” something the Buddhists would call the state of nowness.
This no-contest difference between being and doing is like night and day in how it feels inwardly with our overly jangled nerves, tight muscles, and short-tempered fuses. One is lining up all our accomplishments: see how much I’ve gotten done today? The other is quietly going about the rhythm of doing each act—in the moment—with care and presence. Non-essential activities and distractions never taint such a slow and easy tempo. Each task is valued in and of itself, thus not accorded a greater significance than any other. It is a gesture of love that goes peacefully into our smaller world and then energetically into the larger world of life as an act of love.
Together with my husband’s helpful reminders to slow myself down mentally and eschew the terrible dis-ease of “time sickness,” another of my teachers for the restful relaxed pace of life is my beautiful white-flowered Phalaenopsis orchid (the so-called elegant Moth orchid). On its pleasing, arching flower stalk are blossoms in various stages of graceful bloom. Three flowers are fully open, while the next one in line up the stalk has moved from a tight little green ball toward opening ever so slightly as developing petals of the flower.
This leisurely process has been evolving over weeks, bit by bit, as the bud gradually readies itself to display its full grandeur, which will not arrive for many more weeks. Along the rest of the stalk are minute balls forming in various stages—my subsequent teachers of the art of unhurried slowness—all in the perfect timing of concentrated life force and ripeness. An orchid has its own natural, gentle rate of life and blossoming. And when left unhampered, it blesses life with its ease and exquisite bloom. But not a moment too soon!
Leonardo Da Vinci once observed that the smallest feline is a masterpiece. Would we even notice such a tiny gift in the fast lane of hurry, hurry, hurry? We each have a choice as to which god we shall serve: will it be the god of the driven fast life or the god of easy-does-it heart and mind health?
Live in the serene peace of laboratories and libraries.
Text and Photo © by Zane Maser, 2010. All rights reserved worldwide.
My editorial guru and technological wizard is Chris Maser, my delightful husband.
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