Saturday, March 29, 2014

What just has to go?

Today was a big day. And, an unexpected day.

I love to garden. I like the sensation of having my hands in the dirt. I enjoy pruning and replanting.  Today my "gardening" consisted of an unexpectedly satisfying task - sycamore leaf removal.

I live under a huge sycamore tree.  Thriving in the wilderness of Brandeis, this tree is formidable, despite the continual pruning we do and the occasional branch break due to high winds and rain.  It is  glorious and makes excellent shade come summer time, but it drops massive amounts of leaves. Huge leaves. Everywhere. All year long. The endless summer of southern California means endless leaf fall.   And, being the less-than-diligent yard worker that I am (I said I loved gardening, not that I did it often), these leaves get wind swept into every crevice and corner of the garden around my house. 

The leaves don't just sit on the ground, they manage to embed themselves in the other plants in such a way that you can only remove them by hand.

So, while having my morning cup of tea. I for some reason decided today was the day. I swigged the last of my tea and got to work.  Sweeping up leaves, pulling them out of the crevices, unloosing them from the grip of the jasmine vines.  Leaves leaves leaves.

And, what I noticed was that my garden is quite nice.  There are some sweet plants that are very charming, even a few volunteers that were blossoming in the spring weather.  I discovered that I had a nice garden all along, I just needed to unmask it.  The leaves were suffocating the beauty that always existed underneath. 

The metaphor slapped by in the face.  The idea that we have all that we need right here in front of us, and yet we can't always see it because it is being muddled up with the excess surrounding it.  I am in a place where I don't need to plant more, I need to care for what I have, nurture what is already growing and give it the time, attention and space it needs to blossom.  

As I raked the ground and pulled out the lodged leaves, I found beauty all around me

There was such satisfaction in this process that my one hour stint turned into three glorious hours of unveiling the potential around me.  And, with each sycamore leaf the reality of this process became more and more profound as a metaphor in all aspects of my life.

This was confirmed later in a discussion I was having with two students about their choreography.  I asked them what have you put in your piece that is diluting the power and beauty in your choreographic vision?  What movements are just sycamore leaves clogging up the garden and disrupting the beauty that is already there? 

I knew it before, but now I feel the gravity of this idea in my core. I now want to go back and ask the same question of each and every one of my previous dance pieces.  But, the most profound effect might be in my everyday life.

       How am I cluttering up my vision?
       What is diluting my essence?
       What is added on in such a way that it is covering up the beauty/core/root of what I want?
       How are things suffocating me and keeping me from being my clearest self?
       What just has to go?

Simple and clear.  Keeping what is vital and growing.  Discarding the excess, the weight of last season's commitments.  I am at a place right now where I am redefining what is enough and how I know I have enough/am enough.  In the case of my garden, I had life at my finger tips, but I just couldn't appreciate it with it being visually swallowed up by dry, dead leaves.  I am ready to take the time I need to give to the things that are already growing in my life. The things that are beautiful but can be easily forgotten when piled high with the excess surrounding me.

It may not be an easy process. It might be as tedious as picking the leaves up by hand. But, I can see now that this is the next step for me.  Clearing out.

Revealing lush beauty all around me.


  1. Thank you for this post. We are also clearing out here, toys that are no longer played with, papers that we can save digitally, etc. It takes a long time, but it creates space and energy. Thanks for the encouragement.

  2. I am so glad you are on the clearing out journey too!
    For those of us who don't have that innate sense of keeping things to a minimum (out with the old) it is a tough practice to learn. And, I imagine I will be learning and relearning it throughout my lifetime. So far, the cleaning and clearing out has allowed me enjoy being home more. It is so satisfying to be in a more open and spacious environment. I agree that it deeply affects my state of mind as well!