I grew up taking piano lessons. As a teenager, I would get so absorbed in practicing that I sometimes forgot things. Like the pot on the stove that boiled dry. Oops.
The time I remember best it was cauliflower in a white Corningware pot. I didn’t remember that I had turned it on until I smelled the smoke. By then it was too late, of course–not only was the cauliflower inedible, but the bottom of the pot was so charred it was impossible to get clean again. My mom was really mad. Almost as mad as the time I forgot I had started the Kraft dinner…
I understand why she was angry at me ruining her pots, but looking back I can see what a wonderful gift it was to be able to lose myself so completely in something. Immersed in a piece of music, I could lose all track of time. It was as if the whole world stopped and my worries evaporated. I was completely engrossed in something beautiful.
I thought of this yesterday as I planted this year’s first two flats of seeds. I methodically laid out the black plastic cell packs (I saved them from last year) and filled each little hole with soilless mix. I moistened them with water and patted each one down with my fingers. By the time I opened the seed packets (leeks, tomatoes, purple coneflower) I was in a quiet groove. My stress had disappeared. The clock had stopped.
I began counting the seeds out one by one, until all of a sudden the lights went out. In an instant I remembered where I was again: in a bathroom where the lights are on a timer. (Yes, I have created a little grow-op in the basement bathroom. It’s odd but it works.)
I suppose the timer was a good idea when the previous owners installed it, since they had six teenagers in the house and it probably saved all kinds of energy (not to mention the nagging). But I hate it. No matter how far I turn that dial, it never gives me quite enough time to finish what I’m doing. So much for being completely engrossed in something beautiful.
And that’s one of life’s challenges, isn’t it? To create opportunities for ourselves where we can unplug from the constant noise and demands of modern life. Where we can lose ourselves in beauty, or joy, or imagination. Where we can genuinely recharge our batteries and be at our most creative. That kind of time is a rare gift–when was the last time you lost yourself like that?
I am grateful for my little growing space in the basement. It lets me slip away from the noise and clutter and close the door behind me, opening up the possibility of finding that quiet groove. All I have to do now is fix that stupid light switch.