I have just completed Sarah MacDonald's chapter on ten days of silent meditation in her 2002 travel memoir, Holy Cow: An Indian Adventure. You may well wonder why I am reading the travel memoirs of a youthful Australian journo. You see, I am in the midst of researching 21st century women's travel memoirs and since I am in Australia, I thought it a brilliant idea to read a few Australian commentaries. Holy Cow is my first.
You might notice that earlier in these blogs I mentioned Jamaica Kincaid's Among Flowers: A Walk in the Himalayas.
The two books have very little in common. Except for the moments of reflective meditation and near death experiences that move both authors to come to an understanding of precisely what is important in their lives, the stories are told from very different perspectives.
However, both books linger in my own imagination. As I trotted out to the front garden on this cloudy, relatively cool April morning to try and rescue a few of the plantings that survived my three month's absence while I was travelling, I found myself pulling that which I classify as weeds..the native green stuff that I didn't plant.
Somewhere in between trips to the burlap basket in the side garden where we store all our green waste awaiting a pick up truck once a month, I realized how relaxed, how apt to hum my favorite tune, I was.
I am sure my tendency to hum was a direct result of MacDonald's reference to all the oldies that filled her mind during her ten days of silence at the meditation center in northern India.
I am also sure that I would find it impossible to spend ten days in silence. But, I experience some of the same effect comes from spending a few morning hours tidying up my garden in relative silence. The Butcher Bird kept me company. A couple of Noisy Minors were having a convo on the powerlines down the street. Several lizards scooted from beneath shrubs and a few ants climbed my shin in search of whatever aphids they could find living there.
My mood, as it always is in the garden, was celebratory, quietly so. My sense of well being, of compassion, of being in themidst of a generative scene overtook me once again. Gardens are good for some of us..not walking in them, but tending them. Having garden soil underneath fingernails is good for the psyche. A bit of perspiration mingled with the tiny earth clods makes one feel as though a good deed has been done, for garden and for self.