Could I be feeling restless?
I seem to have ticked quite a few boxes of the thoroughly exciting journey out of the 9 to 5 and into more creative endeavours. I’ve “retired” from my London office life, I’ve travelled, explored and learned, I’ve set the wheels in motion with my art and now I have found a quiet and inspiring place where I can let my paintbrushes and photo pixels run uninterruptedly free… Yet, at times, I am still finding myself tapping my restless finger on the table, expecting some sort of confirmation.
Confirmation in the form of a sign perhaps. A message from the Gods that “I’ve Done the Right Thing” and am “On the Right Path”. Something that would unquestionably validate all these upheavals and blind thrusts forward… like a divine tap on the back… or at least a letter of recognition. I guess the 9 to 5 mentality is a bit hard to kill…
The creative world of self-employment is one where taps on the back and letters of recognition do not exist, at least not when one is starting out. It is a slow and laborious march forward in a thick fog, with the dim light of our own vision and dream as only companion and guide. Yes, we can read books about it, let other creatives tell us about their journey, accept the words of encouragement from friends and family members, but at the end of the long line, there is only us and the pencil.
Us, our dreams and aspirations, the excitement of creating, but also the fears, doubts, insecurities and frustrations that come with it all.
There is however one sure blueprint in these times of uncertainly which seems to unfailingly clarify a few things for me. Nature.
I have been planting and sowing a garden for the first time in my life. I’ve delved into gardening books and websites, reading about bulbs and seeds, sunlight and natural fertilisers, hoeing and digging, pruning and weeding. In essence, with muddy hands and knees I’ve discovered a whole new exciting world.
I’ve recently reflected about how the garden and the work I put in it resembles so closely the process I am going through in my life. As the sun warms my back and I dig deep into the moist earth, I am reminded of the striking similarities between the process of growing in nature and within ourselves.
Firstly, there would be no garden without a good and well thought-out plan. You have to consider how much space you have and what you can do with it, where each crop will fit in best, what to combine together and when to plant each seed. But mainly, you think about what it is that you want. Why plant hundreds of radishes if no one will eat them? Do you want flowers or food? Do you want just a little bit or do you want to become self-sufficient?
The plan is important. It’s our vision and it is what will guide the next steps.
Once the vision has been established, we feel amazing. We can almost already taste it all!
Alas, now comes one of the most difficult parts of the process of growth – clearing and preparing the grounds (ie weeding!). Slow, laborious and yet so crucial. Weeding the ground will allow our crops to grow without having to compete for sunshine or nutrients. It will allow a clean and organised result of what we envisaged. It’s a necessary evil.
I was a little discouraged at this stage of my garden work and contacted Nikie, a great friend and an expert green thumb always ready to help. She explained the need for weeding but then added something which got me thinking. She said that anything (even “good” plants) in the wrong place could be considered as weeds. I thought about how we all allow so many “good” distractions to interfere in the process of growth when we are striving to achieve a goal. It’s so important at this stage not to get sidetracked. I guess it’s a bit of a ruthless process of clearing space and time in order to allow enough sunlight and nutrients to feed our vision.
I feel that in the past two years, I’ve been clearing my land – from the heavy rocks of a career which wasn’t my fit at the time, to the smaller weeds of time and resource-depleting activities which I let go of one at a time. I then fed my grounds with the enriching experiences of travel and discoveries, fertilised it by surrounding myself with people and activities which were in line with my vision and now I am starting to plant the seeds which will grow into the life I see so clearly in my mind.
And here comes the finger tapping, as I stare, transfixed, at the freshly sowed vastness, wishing I would see even the slightest shoot of reassurance.
Just as the earth told me to go boldly in the direction of my dreams, it is now telling me to be patient. To continue weeding, to continue watering and most importantly, to continue believing. The earth has been providing for us since time immemorial… there is no reason why it should fail me now.
Here is an image I created which reminds me of the imperfect symmetry and beauty of nature.