Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Corner

As a gardener, I've always aspired to turn my yard into the kind of setting with a winding path, where it looks like you can see the whole garden, but then at certain places, you turn a corner and something that had been hidden is revealed--a fountain or pond or a beautiful shrub, maybe--so that the garden is like a series of surprises. So far at least, I've never had enough time in any one home to see that dream come to fruition in my gardens.

It has happened some in my life. Some corners are fairly easy to identify. Marriage, divorce, the birth of a child, graduating college and that kind of thing are the sort of corners you see coming, although after you turn, new stuff is suddenly visible that you'd not seen up until then.

Other corners are more subtle and sneaky. I've had some of those corners too. One big one was quite a few years ago now. I was a lawyer, had established a practice where I was my own boss, I worked from home a lot of the time, made ok money, and did much as I pleased. What more could you ask? But that year, I had to make a decision about whether to do what was right or what would work best in the case I was working on. I realized no other lawyer I knew would even think twice about it. It was a minor thing with no chance of getting "caught" doing anything wrong, but I really didn't want to do it. In the end I didn't--a way presented itself that I could go forward without doing the thing I felt was wrong. But in the process, I realized that, all along, I'd been working in this field where stuff like that happened every day, and I was probably the only one I knew who even thought much about following the rules. Most everybody else was figuring out ways to break them with plausible deniability. Legal and right often aren't the same thing.

That decision point was, as I said, a minor issue. But oddly, it was a corner--one that I never saw coming. And once I turned it was the exact moment when it stopped being fun to be a lawyer, and I became obsessed with finding a way to not have to. Not too long after that, I was running a little yarn shop in a tiny town in Iowa, and telling people that I'd go back to lawyering right after I was turned down for a job flipping burgers. Corners definitely have a way of changing the scenery.

I've been turning a new corner lately. I think it's a big one. Things that I've always taken very seriously are, suddenly, not too interesting, and not nearly as important. It seems like I can see a whole new part of the garden, and paying the bills, looking after a budget, taking care of my businesses, doing the taxes, keeping the house clean--all the stuff that I used to spend a lot of time and energy on--is the stuff behind me on the path, and it's damn near impossible to make myself focus on it.

The interesting stuff--a beautiful, peaceful part of the garden--up ahead is calling me. I'm obsessed with some of my weirder research, with wanting to plant flowers, make yogurt, grow vegetables in my yard, work on the little cottage we've been building in our backyard for my daughter's art studio, hang out in the sunshine or take my dogs for a walk. It's like I found my "inner hippie" and she wants me to start wearing long crinkle skirts and flowers in my hair. Who knows? Maybe she came with the tie dye sweatshirt that inspired this post. Wherever she came from, my inner hippie is dang persistent--almost irresistible--and she's push-pull-dragging me around a really big corner, where I lose whatever remaining ties I have to so-called normal life of making sure that your lawn is 100% grass, your kitchen countertops are made out of the right material, your checkbook is balanced to the penny, your 401(k) is well-stocked, your credit is perfect, your creativity is stifled, and your heart's desires are firmly shut away in a dark closet, where such "unproductive" stuff is kept until you're too old and decrepit to actually act upon it, at which time you drag it out and mourn its unfulfillment.

I think my corner has come at just the right time.

1 comment:

  1. LOVE this post. I think your "inner hippie" was already expressing herself when I met you in that "tiny town in Iowa." Thank you for your openness, honesty, and open heart.