Notifications from Mother Nature
There seem to be multiple hashtags for every day of the week, so I don’t know if Mindful Mondays is already “a thing” or if I’m starting a “new thing”. (A quick web search reveals it already exists.) In any case, this idea pops into my head this particular Monday as I eat my breakfast by myself, while the rest of the household is still asleep. Often when eating alone I will busy myself with reading or poking around on my cell phone looking for inspiration, or if I’m being truthful, seeing if something exciting and new has entered my inbox. I have become increasingly attached to this electronic device and I’m not sure I like it.
On this dreary morning, after making myself a colourful breakfast, but before I allow myself to eat, I whip out my phone and take a photo of my masterpiece. When I go walking in High Park with my beloved Dixie by my side, I carry my other beloved, my cell phone, which is also always by my side. How many times have I clutched my pockets in a panic, “Where’s my cell phone?!!!” only to find relief when I discover it’s exactly where I absentmindedly put it? How many times a day do I check my various social media accounts? How often do I feel a tinge of disappointment when no one has responded to my posts? This is starting to feel like a dependency. Forget FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), I’m starting to experience FOMOORL, Fear of missing out on REAL LIFE. (Is that already a thing?)
The act of gardening can be the most wonderful antidote to cellular addiction. It’s calming to allow oneself to settle in to the rhythm of nature, to take inspiration from the single-tasking creatures who focus on the essentials of mere survival. It becomes easy to sink into the tactile process of plunging hands in soil and neatly planting seeds in mathematical formations. Noticing the heat on my skin and the breeze through my hair and the PING! A notification! If I don’t remain mindful of the magnetic pull of the phone, I get sucked down the rabbit hole.
It’s tempting to snap photos or post my gardening experiences, wanting to share within the virtual world. Maybe it’s because I’m feeling a little lonely or maybe a tad competitive with other bloggers? But this kind of haphazard, impulsive communication leads to top-of-mind thinking. I blurt out the first thing that pops into my head and I find myself skipping across the surfaces of conversations as I scroll from one post to another. I feel like a gerbil on a dissatisfying social treadmill and realize I crave a deeper connection.
So, I’ve been testing myself. I leave my cell phone behind when I garden or go walking. I put it away while eating. I’ve been allowing myself to experience an important event in real time rather than through the eyes of my video camera. In general, I am trying to be more aware of how often I have the impulse to check my phone. It’s amazing how often that happens. Even as I write this, I am fighting the distraction of the multiple beeps and buzzes or worse, the lack thereof. This multi-tasking thing has insidious consequences. I feel happier when I choose my activities more deliberately and do one thing at a time.
If I heed the lessons that the garden has to offer, I can see the integral connection between all living things. Each has its ecological function, each individual an essential contributing member of the whole. And that includes me. This simple, heartening fact reminds me that I am already connected, and I don’t have to madly click my way through the webisphere in search of something I already have. Instead, I can stay in the present moment of the real world. I can focus on the task of pinpointing my “ecological function”, discovering what part I play in the whole. As gardeners, as stewards of the earth, it is our job (and great joy) to work with Mother Nature, deliberately, mindfully, ultimately every day, not just Mondays. So how can we do this given the push and pull of all the distractions around us? It takes practice. And like anything worth doing it takes deliberate intention.
Perhaps we can learn a little something about this from a fun article I discovered in Tricycle about how to brew a perfect cup of tea. Written by Noa Jones.