Friday, October 19, 2012

Staying Focused

In 1992, my tree-loving husband planted a nut grove of quite a variety of edible nuts.  He thought it conceived it as a retirement project.  He enjoyed trimming and caring for trees and experimenting with the best ways to help them grow.  The first fruits came in 1999 when the hazelnuts bore quite a crop in the month before he died in October.  We put baskets of the nuts along with pictures and other memorabilia at the visitation, inviting others to take a few and plant them in his memory. 

In subsequent years, we kept the grass mowed in the plantation so that the gathering in the fall would be easier.  Year after year, we watched carefully, but the harvest was sparse.  One of the first years after my second marriage, my new husband and I worked at trimming and thinning out the trees, but with two knee replacements then dealing with cancer, my deteriorating eyesight, and perhaps our age, J  it became more difficult. The trees continued to grow, but a few Manitoba maples also sprouted and grew, fast as Manitoba maples do.  There were even some hard maples—good in their place, but not in accord with the purpose of the nut grove.  It became more difficult to mow close to the trees so grasses and weeds grew rampant and the whole grove began to look messy and uncared for.

How like our lives when we don’t pay close attention to what is filling our time and taking our energy.  For a few years, my focus was on my writing.  Gradually, other things worked their way into my life until my writing was relegated to the few days I could fit in any given month.  With my husband’s hospitalization and many medical appointments, it became hours instead of days.  Oh the thoughts and ideas still held a large space in my mind and heart, but the actual writing was almost obscured by the undergrowth and the larger activities that grew around the focal interest in my life. 

This spring, when we went to take another look at the nut grove, I was filled with remorse. I plead with my children and grandchildren for one day’s help.  They responded positively and we had a wonderful day in the nut grove, led by the services of an arborist friend.  We mowed the long grass and weeds, chopped down the trees that didn’t belong in a nut grove and trimmed up the nut trees to make maintenance easier. Now when I drive past the nut grove, and I’ve done so frequently, I feel a glowing sense of satisfaction, an awareness that it once more represents the intention of my first husband, and a warm glow as I remember the family working together to achieve the new look. It once more looks like a nut grove.

The nut grove has become an illustration of what I need to be constantly aware in my day to day living.  Right now it may take a major time of sorting out and discarding, but if I do that, I will do more writing again.  Some interruptions may be legitimate and necessary, but if I am more conscious of each demand on my time and discard the less necessary as soon as they appear, I will be able to maintain the integrity of the purpose of my life. 

In this busy world, I probably am not the only one with this problem. 


Peter Black said...

Thank you for sharing this lovely story, Ruth.
I identify strongly with your point about the need to overcome the encroachment of numerous things that crop up and distract us from our focus (in our case, pressing on with our writing work).

mitch irons said...

Being focused to our work is the most sensible thing to undertake. for us to finish it well and to prevent us from making nonsense things :) God bless!


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