Partner 1: Lever 80 lb paving stone from the dirt.
Partner 2: Deadlift 80 lb paving stone from the shovel.
Partners: Farmer carry 80 lb paving stone 20 meters and stack.
35 rounds for time
Then: Roto-till 480 square feet of grass and weeds. Rip out remaining root structure.
FYI, our time for this delightful task was 90 minutes, give or take a drink of water. It actually went fairly quickly and smoothly (thank you, Crossfit). Now, if only that had been indicative of the entire task–which it most assuredly wasn’t. So far, this is some of what we have learned:
1. Nature loves a good plan–it gives her something to laugh about.
2. Nature doesn’t give a flying fig about your timetable.
3. You can study, study, study….but you haven’t learned anything until you fail.
4. Getting angry about failure and delay is a waste of energy.
5. Seedlings are adorable. Like kittens. Really, I can’t resist them.
The garden aspect of this project has become an amazing practice of life-yoga. There was a time when I considered it an unmitigated disaster and contemplated throwing my hands up and quitting. Nothing seemed to be cooperating. My plans were mocked by a month of non-stop monsoon rain. My vision of beautiful raised wood beds was blown up by the sheer expense of ugly, chemically treated lumber that I didn’t want anywhere near my plants. And for all the gardening information out there in the world of books, the one truly valuable truth was nowhere to be found. I got really mad. I got really impatient. I got really upset. It wasn’t pretty.
Then I got my s*** together, took a long yoga look at the situation and surrendered.
This small backyard has become the mat and all of the lessons in patience, acceptance, mindfulness and awareness are being put into play. I have learned that no matter how hard you try, or how forcefully you project your will, nature has its own agenda. The earth moves to her own beat, and you either dance to that tune, or go sit in a corner and be mad about it. Your choice. But that, and a month of Sundays still won’t get the tomatoes to grow. Sage and I chose to plant an outdoor garden, using the tools nature offers. Dirt. Rain. Sun. That was our choice and our decision. We know now that if we had truly wanted to control the process, we should have gone hydroponic. But that decision to go au naturel brought with it an amazing need to let go. Nature will not be controlled. You can arrange your plants thoughtfully and stay tuned to when they need something she isn’t currently offering. But otherwise….shut the heck up and dance. When it happens, it happens.
Tomatoes have graced the earth forever. The cucumber is not a modern invention. People have been growing them for millennia and there is no shortage of resources to tell you how to do that. But in all of that, nobody actually tells you one critically important thing. So I’m going to go ahead and give it to you. You may plant the plants. You may water the plants. You may nourish the plants. In the end, they aren’t your plants. They belong to nature and they will develop when and how they want to. Your only job is to love them and enjoy the process, releasing any attachments to the fruit.
It has been a real trial and a true joy figuring out how to make this happen. There is something truly therapeutic about folding top soil and compost into the sand and watching beautiful, black dirt emerge. It is both a gorgeous medium, and a blank canvas. I’m seriously enjoying the act of figuring this out, even when the process fails. My first few tomato plants bit the dust pretty much immediately. After the disappointment, I had the opportunity to examine why and discovered something that research wouldn’t have provided. Just like yoga and Thai, everything is subject to variability. It is all unique and precious. My dirt is not the dirt next door, nor the dirt in Maine or in California. My tomatoes are not other tomatoes. So while there are uniform commonalities, yes, there is also individuality that is subject to daily conditions. To me, that takes this from a project to a journey.
It was an important shift. So many of us, including Sage and I, tend to look at life in terms of goals. Get here. Do this. Get ‘er done. And when our project ran into road bumps and blocks, we both became suitably upset. Somehow I think we both thought we would just move in and bang it all out. “Thai massage, check! Garden, check! Garage studio, check! Done and now off to work!” But that’s not how nature works. That’s not an authentic reality. Everything happens in cycles and comes to fruit when it is ripe. Your task is to manage your own reactions within that flow and to make small course corrections when things aren’t working. Observe. Contemplate. Adjust. I learned that lesson from tomatoes and I have started to become happier because of it.
Nature has it all under control. So I am learning to let go a little bit, and evaluate what is truly needed and when. My partner and my garden have both been great catalysts for this. I invite you to try it. Find a little dirt and a few seedlings. Dig and discover. There are lessons there, I promise.
Besides, seedlings are adorable. Like kittens….