I don’t do a lot of things to really relax. Writing is not normally stress-free, especially when I am on a deadline and searching my head frantically for the right words. I swim and run competitively, and bike occasionally for fun. I do housework and laundry, which are both relatively mindless activities, but still physical in nature.
One activity I do enjoy is working in the yard. I grow a variety of tropical fruits, vegetables and herbs, and I find that shoveling compost, pulling weeds and setting the sprinklers does loosen the tension in my jaw and shoulders, and allows my mind to wander onto subjects that don’t involve work, words and worry.
While outside this morning, pulling weeds and inspecting the yard for damage following severe thunderstorms, I spotting something on my avocado tree. It was an avocado. I’ve been waiting five years for this tree to do something besides show off flowers and leaves. Yes, I was aware when I purchased the tiny seedling that it has what’s called a “long juvenile period.” But five years? I wondered if the $20 spent on its purchase was ever going to be a good investment.
Over the years, I have wrapped that tree in blankets and plastic, to protect it against frost. I have siphoned water away from it after rain from hurricanes and tropical storms surrounded it. I have plucked the dead brown leaves and pruned the branches, in an attempt to speed its growth.
In some ways, that tree reminds me of my own journey into My Next Life. I’ve found protection in the wraparound comfort of words, both my own and other writers. I’ve fought to stay alive in the writing game as the demands of my “regular” life seep into and sometimes engulf my writing time. And I’ve had to cut and trim away some writing endeavours that simply did not work anymore. And like my avocado tree, I expect to bear even more fruit than I have so far. One avocado is a good start, but it’s not a bowl of guacamole.