NANCY G. SHAPIRO

FINDING CALM IN THE MIDST OF CHANGE

The Practice of Unfolding

August 11, 2014

“I find my ideas and visions taking longer to bear fruit—a slowing down and [feeling like I'm] getting less ‘done’—[the] work now is to not interpret this negatively but rather contemplatively.”                                      

-Victoria Seeley

 

 

My friend Victoria’s words are like soft rain after a long drought. The last eight months have been a time of rethinking, reimagining, rebuilding, and re-sensing how I want to breathe and walk through the days and months to come. I’ve found unexpected synchronicities, collaborations and abundant quiet time, albeit sometimes rather forced. Four months of flu and colds, an emergency appendectomy, and having both my personal and website emails hacked have contributed to this sense—and fact—of slowing down in order to listen to what I need to hear. Of contemplating instead of judging.

 

Every day I pass through my small walled garden on the way to my studio. Over the years I’ve learned to take notice of what is unfolding—the three Japanese iris that have bloomed overnight, the hens-and-chicks growing so fast they now need replanting, or the sudden surprise of leaf-eating ants beginning to devour the jasmine vine.

 

The plant that speaks to me most is the philodendron in its shady corner. Rooted deep into the soil with its aerial roots snaking along the wall, it has grown into a magnificent plant over the last five years. It has done this by slowly and steadily unfolding one leaf at a time. Today I noticed a new leaf in its initial unfurling. Over the next week it will unfold until it reaches two feet in length and almost the same dimension in width.

 

Each day as I walk past it, the philodendron reminds me to follow its rhythm—to steadily, slowly unfold in my own glorious way, continually growing into and adapting to my own corner of the world. And yes, many times life calls for a fast-paced blur of activity, jolting me out of this tried and true rhythm (my husband just turned on Dire Straits’ “Money for Nothing” at full volume…his timing both distracting and brilliant). That’s why unfolding is a practice, why I keep returning to the garden.

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