My yoga mat waits while I try to find the equilibrium that has been missing the last few days. It could be the weather switching from hot to cool to rain in rapid succession, it could be the sheer exhaustion of going through these weeks of lockdown, the absence of social contact or rather the reduction of it. Although, in a way, we find ourselves skyping, zooming with friends and family more than before. In spite of that, there is a hollowness inside that comes from not seeing family for what seems like years. It is not the uncertainty, just the longing to see children, parents, friends. Distance now seems to take on a completely new dimension as we inch our way towards the ones we love, towards the ones who matter in our lives. From today, we can travel 100 kms, but is that enough? For us, it isn’t. But someday, it will be. The time I have spent in the garden and on the mat has taught me the greatest virtue needed at this time, the one of graceful patience.
I remember reading Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha as a young person where when asked of the young Siddhartha what his qualities are, he replies, “I can think. I can wait. I can fast.” The merchant laughs dismissively at this reply, unable to see the power and strength of these qualities. I love the idea of patience and its power to transform situations and lead us to the path that we consciously choose. When I sow seeds early spring, I feel both am immense joy and immense pain. Joy, because something beautiful will emerge and make the garden sing to the sky. Pain, because one day this too shall fade and return to the soil. The cycle continues and renews itself, year after year. So, along with the plant seeds my journey begins too, from sowing to quickening and blossoming and then to the inevitable dying. And I only have to bring in the quality of patience. Wait for each turn, for they will turn, wait for one to slide into the next, for they will slide. The cycles that I take, the journey that I embark on, is not just a yearly one. This happens all the time, in all aspects of life. Today, I connect with graceful patience and the immense peace that comes with it. I walk through the forest watching as the leaves turn from tiny flushes of green to dark bold shapes. I notice the traces of wild boar where she has tumbled down the hillside to the river in the ravine. I listen to the owl as he hoots to his mate across the hills on a moonlit night. As I resort back to nature, my longing does not disappear, it just becomes a little easier.
Peace of Wild Things When despair for the world grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be, I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief. I come into the presence of still water. And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light. For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free. Wendell Berry