I work like a gardener… Things come slowly… Things follow their natural course. They grow, they ripen. I must graft. I must water… Ripening goes on in my mind. So I’m always working at a great many things at the same time. (Joan Miró)
I often feel overwhelmed, that I am trying to do too much, that it would be more satisfying and productive to choose and focus solely on one project until it is completed before moving on to the next. I should spend a weekend clearing and organising my wardrobes until they are in order, or sit down for a day and write my short story tapping away at the keyboard until it is fully formed, or read one novel from cover to cover instead of having three on the go simultaneously.
But I can’t – and that makes me feel defective.
If I were a gardener, I would not plant only one seed and nurture it until it flowers in resplendent glory, focus on its care to the exclusion of all others. If I did, the lawn would overgrow, the weeds would suffocate spring’s shoots, the shrubs would grow tall, straggly and misshapen. Everything would suffer, even the one plant receiving my complete attention, which might drown with overwatering or have its new roots disturbed by anxious hoeing.
There would be days when I could do nothing, when I was waiting for the seed to germinate, when I was powerless to speed the natural process, which must be allowed to take its steady course. On these days, do I stand over it, urging it with increasing frustration to grow more quickly, forcing it to defy nature’s course?
No, on these days I can turn my attention elsewhere: mow the lawn, clear the weeds, prune the shrubs. Or perhaps there would be a day when there is nothing to do but wait quietly and patiently, admiring the beauty of nature, listening to the birdsong, enjoying the warm sun and the soft breath of the breeze, while the seeds send out their tender shoots, and the blossom gives way to fruit, and the flowers bud on the cusp of bloom.
And so I will continue to juggle my projects, spending a couple of minutes a day sorting my wardrobe, write a paragraph or two of a short story interspersed with a few lines of thought for a personal essay, read The Great Gatsby during the day and Asleep at night.
I will work steadily and patiently, doing the right thing at the right time.
I will work like a gardener.