I’ve occasionally written about the different kinds of cycles one can become aware of when adapting to a lifestyle that is more attuned to the rhythms of the seasons and the weather. I’ve also commented on the growing awareness of the cycles that I tend to go through, an awareness I attribute to the ‘permaculture’ lifestyle I’m partly responsible for trying to implement since mid-2012. This post follows a similar theme and briefly reflects on the activity of past months.
Out of the past 5 months, three were largely focused on writing the first chapter of my Ph.D. study – I posted the content as I went along. During those Winter months I continued to do the regular plot ‘chores’, such as dish-washing, tidying and sweeping, compost-making and compost material ‘management’, etc. That’s where the physical energy went, but it seemed that my calories were mostly burnt on mental energy, and my focus was more or less exclusively on researching the ecological crisis and compiling the info into the relevant formats.
As Spring was approaching, however, the focus became the living environment Emma and I used to call ‘the shed’, an area that was born by felling some trees and throwing an old truck tarp over it, which then grew into a car-port style roof with carpeted ‘walls’, and which now boasts rustic cladded wooden walls, a neat kitchenette (cupboards, with doors!!!), shade-cloth, comfortable chairs, etc. I worked on multiple side-projects in order to get this all finished, because around here one job leads not only to another, but to a dozen others!
It seems appropriate that Winter was a less physically and logistically demanding time, while Spring has been exactly that; this is in keeping with the character of the two seasons, Winter being slower and a time for rest, Spring being a time for fresh activity. What increasingly interests me is my reaction to such seasonal aspects, seasonal aspects not only of the year, but the ones I accordingly find myself going through.
For example, for the previous few weeks I have felt the need to get back to researching and writing for my academic study; there is a deadline for the end of December, and I need to be researching and writing daily if I am to make that deadline. I also have lecturing and marking commitments, as I have had all year, so I have recently felt quite stressed when thinking about the need to finish ‘the shed’ renovation, the current academic demands, and the future academic deadline.
Yet somewhere in the back of my mind there was a new-ish awareness that everything happens ‘in good time’. Maybe it has something to do with learning several valuable lessons about patience over the past two and a half years, lessons that can’t be avoided when starting to build a physical living environment from scratch and when trying to establish sources of income – not to mention trying to find a healthy balance between the two!
Such an awareness, of things happening ‘in good time’, has made my occasional period of stress quite short-lived, especially compared to the person I once was, the person who worked a full-time academic job in the UK for four years where there was often no end to the trudgery. Here, the activity never ends, but it is inherently a process of continual change. I do have to remind myself of that sometimes, especially when it’s been six weeks of, for example, woodworking, only to still have another few weeks of it staring me in the face. But I’m getting better at letting that occasional bout of frustration blow-over and instead just getting on with things.
Would I have been able to react in such a way had it not been for my transition to ‘this’ kind of lifestyle? An impossible question to answer. Maybe! Maybe people do become more accepting of gradual processes and less impatient as they age – though I know plenty of people who render the comment inaccurate! I do feel, however, that this is not just about patience, but an additional layer of awareness that is less egocentric and possibly more ecocentric. The artificial linearity of contemporary society – where everything seems to move on endlessly in almost exactly the same fashion (i.e. business as usual) – can create a picture of a monotonous ‘reality’ where seasons are only noticed because of the need to change clothing due to changing weather. But there is a different seasonal aspect to human beings, one I’m clearly still trying to understand, but one I’m directly experiencing because of ‘plot-life’.