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Friday, October 23, 2009

Learning to do nothing: One lesson at a time.



"UNDE ORIGO UNDE SALUS"

"From the Origin/Earth comes Salvation"

I'm not sure where this quote comes from originally, but I read it lately in a book  titled, Venice is a Fish, by Tiziano Scarpa, 2008.  It talks about the city as an organic entity, embodying its past and its future, dictating how life is lived by its inhabitants.  It is a fascinating read.

I'm telling you this because my adjustment to the new life that on the surface had everything one wants in Paradise, even a walk with that name,  left me longing for something that I could not quite satisfy.

Month after month, year after year, trying different things, I found my source of peace through gardening, observing nature, accepting what was in front of me, reading,  writing, joining the Bandon Writers, the Reading Club, the SMART Program, and running for office. Most of you know that I serve as a Trustee on the local Board of Education. This year starts my second term. 

A word about Nature. I grew up in an era when most people's work was agricultural.  That work was tied to season, weather, wind patterns, natural calamities.  Our very existence depended on forces outside ourselves.  We were responsible for certain parts, at certain precise times; but, the rest was up to bigger powers.  In that setting, we took our job seriously.  When it was time to plant, we planted. When it was time to weed and till, we did those chores.  We anticipated and worked round the clock to beat rainstorms or locusts, or ...We did all we could, when we could.  The rest, we accepted.

I still feel connected to those rhythms.  Working in a garden allows you to dream big, as well as  accept the limitations of your conditions. You clear the land, work in compost, plant, water, weed, and nurture the tiny plants.  But, it is up to the sun to shine, the seeds to sprout, the insects to pollinate.  Some things take a long time.  Some things occurr so fast, they are not visible. Some things depend on dust particles on the wings of butterflies.

We are part of a bigger natural world. Fundamentally, we are 90+ similar to other mammals. Our curiosity, our imagination, our ability to invent has also separated us from our source, our world, our origins. 

When things don't feel right, we need to remember that.

36 comments:

Renee said...

How true. You are a muse.

xoxox

Shadow said...

i believe you are onto something here. when i need a lift, to relax, a break, seek guidence or creativity, that's exactly where i go, out to mother nature...

Bagman and Butler said...

Words of wisdom. Our ability to invent and use tools has taken our species way over the edge. The wheel was okay. Fire was okay. Shovels, axes, stuff like that. But once we invented telephones, computers, televisions, and media news networks we were lost.

Carol @ TheWritersPorch said...

Nature is the tank that always refuels me! :)

Fire Byrd said...

Good words.A timely reminder of looking for the dream in the everyday.

Helen said...

I have always found solace in the land around me ... the smells, the feelings that just flood me whenever I experience the out of doors. No matter where!
I also serve as a Trustee on the board of a charitable foundation .. and have for over ten years. Very satisfying indeed.

karen said...

I am rushing to get up to date with your latest series of posts! I love the quotation, and seeing how your eventual adaptation to the life of retirement has evolved! I'm a real nature girl, myself, so this rings so true for me...

Sarah Laurence said...

You express many fertile ideas in this post. Well said.

RNSANE said...

As always, your posts are wonderful and I need to go back and read all of them when I have time to really sit and ponder - as I will next week. I don't have any gardening space but, for me, the ocean is my solace and reprieve from the world when I need it. I am just two miles from the Pacific and I derive so much joy from being able to walk along the beach. Sometimes, on my way home from a particular sad forensic case, I would just pull my car off at Great Highway and sit and watch the waves for an hour. The ocean often matches my moods, calm and serene, at times - at others, stormy and wild!

Snowbrush said...

I wish you lived with us. We both love plants but aren't so keen on gardening, although I have accumulated quite a few houseplants. Peggy is unfairly convinced that she "can't" garden because she's a "plant killer," whereas I know I can garden, but I'm just not really into it. I know my wild plants, and whenever we take a walk, whether in town or the country, it's the plants I notice. Ah, if only I could turn a switch that would make me love gardening, I could surround myself with all those plants that I so love. I don't call myself Snowbrush for nothing, you know.

Reya Mellicker said...

I totally agree, 100% Spending time outside is a big part of my Plan to Stay Sane.

This series of learning to do nothing ... though seems like you actually do a lot! ... is fabulous!!

Sophia said...

I love coming here and reading what you write. I may have awhile before I retire, but your blog is definitely uplifting and inspiring. I can take these and apply them to my life even now. :)

Lori ann said...

What you are saying is true. For me,I feel more comfortable in nature than with people.

Elizabeth Bradley said...

If I'm ever down in the dumps, (yes, I get blue on occasion), I head outside.

Great post, great reminder. I believe some people need to be reminded that there even is an OUTSIDE.

Oh My Goddess said...

So true. I live near the shore, and go all times of the year for long walks. It's beautiful in every season.

Nancy said...

I'm just catching up on the last couple of posts. It was so nice of you to share your retirement experience over a period of time. We find ourselves in a twilight space. Too young to retire, but with the economy the way it is, there seems to not be another choice at the moment. At first it was fun, then it became weird and monotonous, now it is mostly nice. We have found busy work that we both find rewarding - my book and blog, he is doing analyses on utilities. We are using our minds, living mostly in the moment, enjoying nature and the cycles of life, traveling a bit, and being aware of consumption. All in all, not a bad life. Not the one we were used to, and not the one we expected so soon, but a calm life, free of anxiety and rushing around. I can relate to all that you experienced. Thanks for sharing.

willow said...

It clears the cobwebs, doesn't it?

ellen abbott said...

I've felt for a long time that the human race is going insane and I have connected it to our current disconnect with nature. Back to the land and sanity!

The Things We Carried said...

I have always found peace and comfort through the seasons in my garden. Nature takes my breath away.

Ribbon said...

Very true...
Everywhere and anywhere I have ever lived I always plant something.
x Ribbon :)

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

You speak the same truth that Annie Dillard did in Pilgrim at Tinker's Creek.

Janie at Sounding Forth said...

That is the absolute truth! (Came over via the Goddess.)

NitWit1 said...

I love the title of your post. My retirement--my idea of do nothing--was forced upon me at an earlier age (59.5) after a bout with kidney cancer made me eligible for permanent SS disability.

After healing physically and acceptance mentally, I reshaped my life, step by step, sometimes erring.

My return included some early loves, included my love of nature, but not working in it. I loved to admire it, observe it, and photograph it.

It brings me peace. The "magic of regeneration" season to season amazes me.

I again have filled my life with too manny "good deeds" and now am going to learn the word "no" used when needed, as I owe some "nothingness" time to my husband, too.

Thanks for making me "think".

Bogey said...

"Unde Origo Inde Salus" (From the Origins came Salvation), refers to the coincidence of Mary's feast day and the legendary date of Venice's foundation, (March 25,421). The inscription can be found in the centre of the mosaic floor of The Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute in Venice.

And as for getting back to nature, this was part of my intention during the summer time when I relied on cycling around and going camping etc. Getting back to the basics of being outdoors. I never felt so refreshed and miss it already. Wonderul thoughts.

lakeviewer said...

Thanks, everyone for your thoughtful comments. A very special thanks to Bogey, for his amazing connection to the origin of the inscription I included. To all of you, I wish health and long life ahead. To those of you in your senior years, tell it like it is, so the younger set can know the truth and prepare for it. I shall return to this topic now and again, as my mood moves me.

For today, I'm off to paint my outdoor furniture that needs attention. Doing something useful always makes me feel great. Arrivederci.

Sniffles and Smiles said...

Oh, what a beautiful and true post!! And how wonderful to simplify, and to strip away the excess and non-essential from our lives! Yes, indeed, there is something energizing and peaceful about living in harmony with the rhythm of the seasons...and acknowledging our interface with nature. I love this! Thank you for your kind and encouraging words today! It means so very much to me! You are a truly generous and gracious lady. ~Janine XO

Gran said...

I love the picture! As soon as I saw it, I felt calm and peaceful. You are a wise woman.

janis said...

What a nice post. I must agree. I look forward to the spring here at the new home to start working the landscape and bringing a Gonzalez touch to this yard :) I see many iris' in it's future!

Hilary said...

There is such truth in this post. Never have I felt more in touch with Nature and with my own thoughts as I have in the past couple of years. It's photography that gets me out there and opened my eyes, but it's those strands of reconnection which keeps me there.

Man of Roma said...

A 'back to nature' then, unde origo est nostra. I would go. But my wife wouldn't. And I too, who had the fortune to live 300 yards from the Coliseum for 30 years, would feel unhappy if totally separated from the eternal city, from the city of our soul. I would miss too many things.

We have a house in the country, 2 ours and a half drive from central Rome. Life there would be more similar to yours, Rosaria, with olive trees and vineyards all around, and a lovely view over Arezzo's cathedral in the distance. We could make wine and oil, and live in the open air. But it needs some investment since there's no heating, except an old fireplace, and the house is big. Arezzo is far away from the sea, and its winters are cold.

Yes, it takes a lot of adjustment to learn to do nothing, as you say. When I came back from work I felt I deserved to sit down and read the newspaper or scribble something on my blog. Now some life reshaping needs to be done. No big deal after all. There are people who lost their jobs and have difficulties to feed their family. Their children need instruction. I was thinking to get involved in teaching for free whatever I can teach them, being an ex teacher. We will see.

Ciao

G

♥ Braja said...

Well said, Rosaria.....

Man of Roma said...

This line can lead to misunderstanding:

There are people who lost their jobs and have difficulties to feed their family = There are people who live a much more difficult situation. They lost their jobs and have difficulties to feed their family.

Delwyn said...

Hi Rosaria
I have enjoyed reading of your adjustment to retirement, the downsizing and the search for new pastimes and activities to maintain health physically mentally and emotionally...

I like the feeling that I can do with much less, not just objects but also I have learned to be more self contained and need people less...I am very happy in my own company and that I think is one very rich reward of retirement.

Happy days

Jennifer said...

Rosaria, your phrase Some things depend on dust particles on the wings of butterflies," is perfect.

I agree, remembering our similarities and connections to our origins and other creatures puts life into perspective.

I just read your series on your experiences with the pace of retirement. Thank you for sharing parts of the journal you wrote then.

Margo said...

Wonderful and provocative wisdom here! Makes me wonder about the price society will pay over the long term as we grow further away from this - full of people looking for satisfaction in empty things.

marc aurel said...

You give me ideas about what to look forward to, if I retire in a year, as I should