Thursday, April 14, 2016

Can I Just Sit?

Can I Just Sit?
For Five Minutes?
Can I just sit? Can you? I don’t sit, unless I am doing something while sitting. Can I focus on just one thing for five minutes?

I scanned the amaryllis blooms as I watered them. They are gorgeous. I notice them daily when I walk by or when I’m watering or weeding. They bloom for about three weeks and then they are gone for another year.
Today, I realized that not once in seven years have I taken any time to sit and look at them. Three weeks out of fifty-two I see them in flower, and then I wait for another forty-nine weeks until I see them again. They are so fleeting and I don’t take the time. I challenged myself: “Can I just sit for five minutes and look at these flowers? Can I just sit and notice them for the first time? Can I just sit without answering the urge to weed, water, or trim? Can I just sit and look at them in the context of doing nothing else?”
I fetched my stool and my camera and I sat. I noticed. I did nothing  anything else for at least five minutes. In that time, I noticed that the throat of the amaryllis is deep green. I noticed that it has six filaments. When my five minutes ended, I kept noticing For the first time, I stuck one up to my nose: It smells like watermelon. I noticed that the petals on one flower were chewed. I checked a not-quite-open bud and found a rather satiated unidentified larva. I tossed it in the lot next door because this was sitting time, not killing time.
I noted that only a few buds remain to open and remembered that those will be the last of the blooms. I noted droplets of water sliding off petals and leaves.
I can just sit for five minutes. I can notice. I can see and learn. Can you just sit for five minutes? What will you notice?

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Turn Over a New Leaf—A Real One

Turn Over That Leaf
What Do You See?

It’s a cliché: Turn over a new leaf. But did you ever turn over a real new leaf—a growing leaf, one that just evolved from a tiny red bud on a once-dry, dead-looking twig on a tree or a shrub? Such a leaf has nothing to do with the cliché’s focus on a change in your life, change in your diet, or a change your job/career/living space.
Spring in Central Florida where I live is subtle, so subtle one could miss it by not paying attention. The leaves on my pink tabebuia fall off and grow back again in the same week, so if I don’t stop and notice, the tree looks like it is always green.
Each new leaf starts as a tiny node, and when first opened, it is red, nearly raw, like it must hide from the bright light of the sun. Touch a new leaf and you will note that it is soft, yielding, ready, and open to change and growth. It is preparing for the time when it will spread and become a new color, when it will fan out and provide shade and embrace the sun and its life-giving chlorophyll.
There is a lesson in the new leaf: It takes its time to open; it opens in stages. When we “turn over a new leaf” in our lives, rather than make brash, unwieldy changes that overwhelm us and turn us from red to green and then to brown in over-fast stages, we can evolve like the leaf. We can open ourselves in a conscious fashion, being cautious to not get burned, to protect the softness still present within us before we’re ready to make a change. When we are ready, then it’s time to fan out, like the leaf, embrace the sun, and continue to grow.