“I’ve no idea how you do it; build a house, manage a garden, write books, keep a blog going? Where do you find the time?”
You know what? I’ve no idea how it happens either. It’s utterly incomprehensible now I look at it.
As I sit here (it’s 11 am) supping my filter coffee, listening to the crickets whirring deliriously and watching the olives sway in the breeze, the light skipping blithely from leaf to leaf, it gives me great pause to think. Time is a mercurial variable. Effort likewise. And neither appear to have anything to do with productivity. How peculiar!
I suppose from the outside it must look as though I’m some sort of maniac; all these creations popping up here, there and everywhere like oily, pink tourists in summer. And there’s just this one woman on a hill, with a hammer in one hand and a computer mouse in the other. It evokes the image either of some weather-beaten, crazed old hag running herself into the ground, or an achievement-obsessed superwoman. But I didn’t come here to achieve. That was what I was running from. I came here to live. To hear myself think. To stretch the hands of my soul into the deepest pockets of my being and ponder on what comes out.
As far as things ‘happening’ is concerned, from the inside it all seems to move incredibly slowly. Sometimes I’m rather impatient with the pace. Yet when I stop and tally it up, I receive a different impression, one I'm thankfully reminded of by the outside world when it asks “how do you do all that?” In the past month, in ways I really don’t grasp, Mud Ball has been published, a free earthbag building PDF has been written, my blog has been updated, the gazebo back rests have been hammered in place, the kitchen floor has been dug ready for tiles, a new wooden kitchen table has been made, the garden has been weeded (again and again), the beans and the tomatoes have been strung up, a succulent garden created, the summer bathroom has been cleared, the summer composting toilet emptied and ready for use, the hammocks hung up. . . Honestly, I have no idea how these things happened. How? How?
The only thing that hasn’t happened is the back step. It’s still a mess. Its time hasn’t come.
Now if I told you that I spend a good half of my day mooching about just thinking, that during the summer I drive to the beach most afternoons and swim before reclining in a café to read a book, that I meditate at least an hour a day and swing in my hammock each evening engaging in nothing more strenuous than a good mulling on life, love and the universe, that I never really feel busy (except in the month of April when the garden can turn a little beserk), what will you say? What will I say, come to that?
I tell you, I am not busy. It’s not really possible to be busy in Turkey. Neither the earth nor the culture allow it. Even a trip to buy a mosquito net can have you supping tea for an hour. Alright, I’m not lazy either. I don’t spend entire weekends prostrate in front of the television, the only visible movement of my body being the twitching of my arm as my hand forages for crisps. I’m active. I’m alive. But workwise, I probably spend about an hour a day writing, and about two hours in the garden. So that’s an extremely undemanding three-hour day I’m ‘grafting’.
That’s it. I generally just do what I feel like, when I feel like it. And perhaps that’s the key. We Westerners have been drip-fed a terrible lie that busyness is productive, that by running around like headless chickens we’re somehow being useful, that the faster we drive the more we achieve, that forcing issues resolves them more quickly. Yet, as I stare out into the wilderness beyond, I notice creativity blooms in the gaps. It is nurtured in the silences. We’ve got it the wrong way round. We think we will do do do, and then stop for a break and admire our workmanship, when in fact the break is apparently required before we act, because it’s the non-doing that begets the doing not vice-versa. Yes, I see. Butterflies don’t flap their rainbow wings before they’ve enjoyed a good slothful stint in a chrysalis, trees don’t push new branches into the sky before they’ve snoozed nice and peacefully for a winter, shoots don’t even entertain the notion of sprouting until they’ve sat resolutely still in a seed pod for months. Snakes and mice spend half their life sleeping. I'm watching nature. She takes plenty of time out. And few are more creative than her.
I ran from the system to avoid busyness. It was a flee from stress, from the never-ending chase after a few meaningless rungs on a status ladder that so obviously count for nothing. So I’ve pitted myself against the rush. I refuse to participate in it. If anything is supposed to get done, it will. If it’s not, it won’t. And yet, as you see, it happens. Books get written, blogs get updated, gardens are dug, flowers burgeon. It just happens. And now I look at it, though I understand not how, there seems to be a lot of it happening too.
Atulya K Bingham
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