In an inefficient life, not everything is useful or tended to. That which we no longer need is released, to slowly dissipate back into the world. It seems to me that this is the natural order of things.
The old mill where I walk is a fairy grotto. Abandoned decades, maybe centuries, ago, its granite walls are being reclaimed, gradually, by moss and lichen. Crumbling back into the earth. The building is being absorbed by the riverbank in a way I find eerily reassuring. One day I too will crumble back into the soil. My cells will dissipate and spread on the wind, as dirt or ashes, I will return to breath.
And yet, online, there is no crumbling stone, no winter rains to gently dissolve the structures we put up.
Instead we exist in a never ending digital Spring. New sprouts and shoots, sites and apps, movements and hashtags, blogs and challenges… birthed endlessly into an infinite landscape which, magically, expands and expands to accommodate them.
In perpetual Spring we are always generative, creative. There is no space for the process of breaking things down. Of letting go, of dying and of returning to the ether – the transition that we see all around us, in the analogue world.
Perhaps this is why we crave seasonal rhythms.
I notice how we’re drawn to images of the natural world, even as we move further away from it. Urban and hemmed in by safety we yearn for the extremes, forked lightening splitting thunderous skies, parched deserts and green rivers, the sun sinking on another day, pink skies and icy snowscapes.
We become obsessed with ideas like Hygge, speaking to us of lives aligned so deeply with seasonal rhythms they are almost indistinguishable from ritual. Seek these connections to older ways, to a time when we didn’t need an app to tell us when the moon was full.
I moved to the hills for those same reasons; to be closer to the land. Away from paved roads and pylons, I draw water from the well, grow food in the ancient soil. I wanted to speak to the river and listen to the trees. Had a fantasy of stepping into those lush images, or being that girl with her back to you in the picture in the forest.
And yet, I write this lit by the glow of a screen. Burn electric lights to keep me working after sunset. Feel a rising frustration with the itch and the apathy, the tiredness that sets in at this time of year. Though my body knows it’s still winter and the first green shoots of spring have not yet burst through the soil.
Our bodies remember
In the natural world rest, stillness, the soaking up of the rain, the composting of what has been before – all of these have equal value. The seasons are ruthlessly egalitarian.
They speak to our bodies, not our minds.
When we allow ourselves to drop out of our minds and into our bodies, we grow aware that they keep their own wisdom.
Rest, they tell us. Eat. Be held.
Connection, freedom, movement, touch – these things cannot, yet, be delivered to us through a screen. Observed, monitored, reflected, perhaps.
The moon swelling. The river rising. Green shoots returning. Great trees falling.
Viscerally, these speak of great value. These things we do not create or control.
We are in constant transition, they tell us, and the cycle repeats and repeats, again and again and again.
Unlike the web and its promises that this next blog, next app, next status, will be the one to finally scratch your itch and leave you feeling whole.
The fallacy of the culture we are a part of is this endless, ubiquitous productivity and efficiency. We are enjoined to strive for efficiency in our spirituality, in our mindfulness, to be productively grateful, photogenically joyful.
Do not be blinded that to step away from that is a radical act.
Connect to your inefficient life
Stepping off the treadmill is as easy as paying attention… but sometimes it helps to have support to do that. Gentle reminders to step back and look around; connection to others making the same choice.
Revive! is the Spring offering from The Seasoned Year. A six week online course with weekly emails to help you move mindfully through Spring 2017. Registration opens 1st March. To join us, click here.