I am a storyteller. At least, that is what I do to pay the bills each month. Sometimes I meet interesting people who do interesting things I will never do. Like excavate 10,000 year-old ruins or pursue extraterrestrial life forms or build satellites to test Einstein’s theory of relativity. Their work will push academic boundaries and be written about and discussed, criticized and remembered.
And then sometimes I meet ordinary people. Who will never publish a paper. Own a patent. Start a company. Or balance their checking account. And they will say something during an interview that makes complete and perfect sense and forces me to think: you. are. a genius. Like the woman I interviewed yesterday.
She is an artist. And we were talking about weaving.
“Not everything is a completion, sometimes it is just a process,” she said.
She was talking about finishing a rug. And how sometimes your vision doesn’t always translate into reality. How sometimes you may want to remove your work from the loom and accept that it was never meant to be more than what it is. And that that is okay. She was talking about her creative process. I was thinking about how I could apply this to my garden. Because I do that sometimes.
“Whatever I do, I need to take something away. I need to learn something,” she continued.
I took notes. I smiled. And I underlined what she said.
Not because I am going to use it in my story. The story isn’t about her creative process. It is not even about her art. It is about sheep. I wrote it down because it was a tangent that took me somewhere.
It is my belief that tangents are inevitably what get us where we need to go in life. They remove us from what is supposed to happen. Instead, they deliver us to a location we never expected, causing us to pay attention and consider whether we are where we are supposed to be.
And I think I am.
I just returned from a trip to San Francisco. I was visiting my best people in my old stomping grounds. And it was like I never left. Only I did. I now live 900 miles away in a town that requires you to show up in person to transfer your electric bill. Where almost no one locks their doors. And you can’t buy alcohol on Sundays.
And I am here because I have some learning to do. This winter, I learned to knit. I am still a beginner. This weekend, I will take my first step towards becoming a beginner gardener, too. I am buying seeds. And some gloves. And I will prep the soil. Because right now, there are vegetables rotting in the boxes that no one bothered to collect in the fall. There are dried out corn stalks bending for cover from the spring rains. And there are pumpkin seeds going nowhere on the ground.
In reality, I may not produce anything in my garden this first season. I may not plant things deep enough. I may overcrowd the planter. I may expect too much from my vegetables. Or. I may do everything perfect. I may create the best environment for my salad fixings and a cruel frost may come and take it all away in August. Because that happens sometimes. And if it does, I will survey what never made it. Salvage what remains. And begin again.