miraculous green shoots
I was an impatient child.
I can remember waiting at the train station with my grandfather – waiting because we had come too early, way too early. (My grandfather was not a man to cut it fine, to race the clock, to risk being late.) I remember wanting to cry, such was my frustration, and then actually crying . . . for no other reason than that I could not stand the limbo of waiting.
I suppose that motherhood helps cultivate the quality of patience. All of that waiting, all of that forced stillness -- as you let a child learn to dress herself, or sound out the letters of a word, or eat a meal with a clumsy knife and fork and a dreamy disinterest in the plate’s contents. And that’s not to mention piano scales, or ballet practice, or all those many hours waiting in a car for someone else to finish. But still, I am childishly impatient – and I have learned to always carry a book, so that I can be entertained – so that I can escape.
I once bought a card that featured a cantankerous elderly woman. She said, “Lord, give me patience. And can you hurry it up.”
My favourite exercise has always been walking – but always outside; never on a treadmill. I want to breathe the fresh air, and observe the landscape as it changes, but most of all I want the sensation of movement. I want to feel that I am going somewhere.
This winter, for the first time since we have lived in England, there have been long stretches (weeks, months) where the weather has been too bad to go outside. Unable to walk, I’ve had to look for some other form of mental/physical exercise; and I’ve discovered an unexpected affinity for yoga – that practice associated with stillness, and concentration, and patience.
Necessary parenthetical caveat: (But having said that, I started with yoga on the Wii – which encourages the rather un-yoga-like competitive aspect. Although the various beeps are helpful for correcting one’s form, and getting a score for each pose is wonderfully motivating, I don’t think the desire to beat your teenaged daughter’s scores are wholly within the yogic spirit.)
Last Friday, for the first time, I graduated (transcended?) to a real yoga class. For 90 minutes, we breathed, we stretched, and we held our poses in silence. I had a more or less empty mind for once, hearing only the crackling of the wood-burning stove and the howling of the wind outside. The time passed quickly . . . or maybe not quickly, but it passed without my being conscious of counting it, or minding it, or ticking it away. I don’t remember thinking, not even once, that I wanted it to end so that I could move on to something else.
Yesterday I was reading a novel in which a woman, who lives in Chicago, is offered a dream house in California. All winter, I have dreamed of living in California. I’ve longed for blue skies, with an angry, deeply impatient sort of longing. Take the house, I say to the fictional character! Are you crazy? But the woman thinks this: “she probably really does need the seasons, their lessons of birth and rebirth, the rich variety they offer, even when the offering is a freezing day full of howling winds and driving snow.”
Yesterday, we had that blue sky that I’ve been yearning for. We also had a sun hot enough to encourage me to put on my gardening gloves and dig my spade into the cold, damp earth. I turned over the soil – “airing it,” even as I aired out my own winter-weary body. I felt this deep sense of – well, exultation, really. I just felt so joyful, so grateful, for this most optimistic of all seasons.
And even though I can’t wait to see everything come into full and glorious bloom, I actually felt content to appreciate and admire these first few signs of spring.
enjoy their brief moment,
because they are a favorite snack
of the muntjac deer who often visit