Last spring, I found myself sitting by this pond wishing there was something interesting to photograph. I decided to sit and just wait. I was hoping maybe a Heron or Egret might fly in and allow me to play paparazzi. I waited and I waited.
I was bored and restless as I realized that Mother Nature probably wasn’t going to cooperate with my photo shoot fantasy. I let go of my expectations and I felt myself start to relax. I started to look at the ground and the plants at my feet. I noticed rocks I hadn’t noticed before. Individual plants stuck out to me instead of the clumps I only barely saw earlier. I looked at where the water of the pond met the dry land. I noticed Water Striders on the surface of the water. I noticed a dragonfly landing on the some tall reeds nearby.
Out of the corner of my eye near my feet I saw movement. I focused in that direction and noticed baby Strecker’s Chorus frogs no bigger than my thumbnail climbing from the water out to land. These newly metamorphosed frogs were starting a new part of their lives right in front of me, and I almost didn’t notice.
I didn’t get any bird pictures that day, but I did walk away with a great lesson. If you stop and look around you outside, you’ll realize there is so much more going on than you realize. The magic of life is in the details, and if you can slow your mind down and take in the world around you, amazing things will surface.
Sometimes I find teachers in my garden. The garden is never the same from day to day. It deserves a good look at least once in the morning, because what is there then may not be there when I get home in the evening. Sometimes I tell myself, when I see a flower and want to linger on it, “You don’t have time, You can do that later.” But almost always when I come back it is not the same. Something has changed… either the flower is completely gone, or the light is hitting it differently, or maybe its been chewed on. What I’ve learned in the garden is this. Every moment is unique. Nothing is permanent, so if you see something special, honor the moment and let yourself stop and drink it in.
The garden also teaches non-attachment. One such example happened recently with Monarch caterpillars. One day there were 2 happily munching on milkweed. They looked like they were in their 5th instar and I was excited to see them form into chrysalis’. The next day they were still there and I took more pictures. Any day now I should see chrysalis’. The day after I went out to look for them, and they were gone. I looked all over the area the milkweed was planted. I felt disappointment, perhaps even a bit of grief for the Monarchs. Then I stopped and noticed that what was making me feel bad was attachment. I had grown attached to the idea of seeing them turn into butterflies, so when the world presented me with something different I felt disappointment. The lesson is that I can choose to feel bad, or I can accept what has happened. I can then make wise choices in the future… like perhaps next time I find caterpillars on my milkweed I’ll put them in an enclosure while they are still vulnerable. Or maybe I just accept that sometimes in nature things don’t go as planned.
The garden is a good place to learn mindfulness lessons with subject matter that isn’t as overwhelming as a lot of personal situations, especially impermanence and acceptance.
What has your garden taught you lately?