When I was a kid I could spend hours in a swimming pool.
I have no recollection of what I would do. Play? Swim? Splash?
Now, when I get in a pool, I’m at a loss. I feel like I should swim laps, or play a game, or float and read a book.
I never had this problem until I was an adult.
I’ve been thinking about this in regards to gardening. Right now, when my mind starts whirl-pooling into work-thoughts, pandemic-thoughts or worry-thoughts that I can’t shake, I make a conscious decision to start thinking about my garden.
What seeds do I plant next? What needs to be pruned, staked, or watered? What areas haven’t been weeded?
But I realized all of these thoughts, while they are nice and distracting, are still goal-oriented. Even when I’m in the garden, I am thinking about what needs to be done. I have my work gloves on, I’m crouching, shoveling, weeding and seeing all the imperfections that should be fixed.
I think sometimes this is just what it means to be an adult. There comes a time when our “play” is actually work. It’s creating something, or fixing something, or baking something. It’s about swimming when you’re in the pool, instead of just being in the pool.
Yes, being in the garden is still way more relaxing than being at work. But part of my own struggles with work-life balance, especially when work and home are becoming ever more entwined during this pandemic, is that I forget I don’t always have to produce something.
I guess I’m trying to rediscover the inner child that allowed me to experience things without expecting an outcome from them. To rediscover the me who would spend hours outside, just playing. Petting the cats, turning flower petals into boats for fairies, plucking blades of grass and braiding it.
Gardening doesn’t have to be to produce a beautiful garden. It can be just to get outside, put my hands in the dirt and feel.
Although I write for a living, my writing doesn’t always have to have a monetary value. It doesn’t have to have a value at all.
For example, does this blog post have to have a call to action, a focal point, or an ending? Or can it just be a moment for me to express thought, choose words and put them in an order, for no reason at all other than to feel how I feel while I’m doing it.