I painted a bridge in our garden this morning. It was a meditative act. When I say this, do not picture me in a state of Zen-like calm, mindful of every brush stroke, the warmth of the sun on my shoulders and the sound of the water flowing under my feet. No, I mean a meditative act much like any of you who are also stumbling novice yogi/meditators will recognise. Something like this:
Isn’t this nice. Empty my mind and just paint. Listen to the water.
Why do we get so few glorious days that there are always a million things you could do, and you have to pack all these chores in?
It’s not a chore. It’s nice. I’m lucky to have a garden, a burn with a bridge over it, and time to paint it in the sunshine. I don’t want to climb a mountain or swim in a loch today anyway.
Amy would love this. I wish she was here. It would be too hot for her, but she’d lie in the sun till she panted then move up to the shade of the gable end. Every so often she’d come to see how I was getting on then have a wee drink and a paddle in the burn. I miss her.
Next slat. Sweep of paint.
I wonder if I’ll get both coats done before I have to go to the hairdresser. Then if it’s good weather again tomorrow, I could do the other bridge. But there’s still the deck and the bin frame and oh no the shed. I wish Son1 was back this summer, he’s a big help with things like this.
Listen to the water.
That’s interesting, there’s hardly any birdsong. The nesting frenzy must be well and truly over. The cuckoo has gone and the swallows have started sitting in rows on the lines. Summer will soon be over…I sound like a Stark of Winterfell*. Shut up already with the ‘winter is coming’.
Paint. Listen to the water.
I’m getting too hot. But it’s very satisfying seeing how much better the bridge looks already.
Oh. I forgot to hang up the yoga mat. Better put another one in to wash…I’ll only need 9 at the most on Saturday, so I could wash 5 today. Then the rest next week. If the weather holds.
Back again, get in the flow. I could write a blog post about this. I wish I was blogging more. I feel bad about not writing but I’d feel bad writing too because I’ve got so many other things I need to do. Like finding out how to do self-assessed tax returns.
Ssh. Paint. Listen to the water.
What’s Son2 shouting about? Oh no, Henry** is in the house! Damn, better shoo him out the garden. How does he get under the gate still when he’s getting so fat?
Phew. At least he didn’t crap in the house.
I’ll do all of both sides first then finish the base. I like the colour Drhusband chose.
Water flowing. Brushing.
I love this garden. It could be a full-time job though. It would be nice to do it justice. How much edible produce would I need to grow to compensate for not having any school teaching income? But then, maybe I’d miss teaching kids.
I wonder what’s happening with my school contract next year.
Maybe I won’t be able to teach at all next year. Maybe this ultrasound will be the harbinger of doom.
If I knew I was going to die suddenly a year from now, but would feel well until that day, how would I spend the last year? Gardening wouldn’t be a bad choice. Are there places or people I really really want to see?
Back to the painting. Listen to the water. Don’t think about Drhusband being left all alone for the second time. Even he says ‘deal with what is, not what might be’.
Water noise. Shade of the willow trees. Swish of the brush.
Hello, puss. No, just stay there. NO – I mean it, stay there. Ah dammit. Blue pawprints up the steps, run and shut the house door before he tracks them all over the floors.
Painting. Breathe. Nearly done the first coat.
Doesn’t it look good? Hmm, I’ve dripped some paint in the burn. Sorry, fishes. It’s meant to be a less toxic paint, but I wonder how bad that still is?
I wonder why I feel happy painting but don’t like spraying weedkiller? Perhaps one is as bad as the other.
Water flowing, rhythmic sound of brush strokes.
Isn’t this nice.
Of course, that’s a tiny fraction of what I was thinking and feeling. And of course, lots of it was on a tedious loop, repeating again and again. But although I’m by no means an experienced or regular meditator, I’ve practised mindfulness enough to know I’ll feel better for my bridge painting meditation. Even if I only got as far as noticing what was churning and wallowing about in my head, I noticed, and I managed to bring myself back (with patience and kindness) over and over to the present moment. Every little helps.
*Game of Thrones, for those of you without teenagers in the house.
**Henry is a bottle-reared lamb who supposedly lives on our neighbours’ croft across the road but currently prefers to hang out with us. He deserves a post of his own another day.