Some people love tending to their gardens with great love and care. I am not one of them. In fact, it is my least favourite thing to do. I don’t like the creepy crawlies hiding under every bit of weed I pull. I don’t like crouching down for hours until my legs and knees are begging for mercy. And I really don’t enjoy being stung by brambles through my gardening gloves. I do however love being outdoors and take great enjoyment in the finished result of a tidy and clean garden. There is a sense of achievement after getting a job done that has been postponed far too long. There’s also the realisation that doing it more regularly would be beneficial for both me and the garden.
What on earth has gardening got to do with writing I hear you wonder. Bear with me, I’m coming to that. Because I hate weeding so much, I tend to leave it until my garden resembles a jungle and it’s very hard work getting the weeds out of the ground. And this is where the analogy with reflective writing comes in. Regular writing, as with weeding, makes it easier to get the job done. It takes regular practice to tend to our thoughts, feelings and stresses. It can be hard to start and you have to force yourself to get going, but the feeling afterwards is one of relief and enjoyment.
Some weeds look big and fearsome but comes out with a light tug as the roots are very shallow. So can some of our biggest worries be based on very little once we take a good look at them. Other weeds look like easy targets but their roots are strong and deep and requires more digging to get out. And don’t get me started on grass. You pull and pull and just get left with a fistful of green blades broken off from the top. Their roots are so strong and intertwined with the soil that it’s sometimes best to accept them as part of the landscape. Some of our quirks are part of our personalities and there’s no amount of weeding (or writing) that is going to change that. In fact, when we try to deny our natural mind-garden is when things start going seriously wrong.
At the back of my garden, there are beautifully flowering weeds that I have decided to leave for now as they don’t bother me and look pretty. Likewise with self-reflective writing, don’t forget to include the light and beautiful and all the things that are going well for you. It is ok to identify issues and decide to leave them alone for now if they are not causing any harm.
Because of my (irrational) fear of spiders, there are a couple of dark corners in my garden that I refuse to touch. In my imagination, big hairy creatures live behind those weeds just waiting to pounce. I dare not go there. This is where my boyfriend comes in with a helping hand. Because there’s no shame in asking for help, right? Some of those darkest corners of our mind are best explored with someone who can support us pull those particularly nasty weeds out.
As you have already gathered, I am not striving for the perfect garden and neither is it worth aiming for perfect writing. Writing for wellbeing, or self-reflective writing, should be as far from perfect you can get. It’s the regular practice that matters. So here’s the deal; I promise to weed my garden more often if you promise to write more regularly. In time I might even attempt to conquer those dark spidery corners. We’ll see…