I’ve lived nearly my entire life in the land of perpetual summer. The 84° forecast for Thanksgiving just something that comes with the territory. My storybook idealism longs for crisp air and cozy sweaters while my mature realism enjoys t-shirts and flip flops. Even though it doesn’t feel like it, at least not according to my more romantic sensibilities, it is still fall and the natural world continues it’s progression, if more subtly than elsewhere, according to plan.
You can miss the signs, to be sure, but they are everywhere. No amount of dry desert air can change the fact that the days are shorter, the nights are cooler (“cold” would be an overstatement so I will refrain from embarrassing myself) and growing has given way to rooting. No more tomatoes in the garden, no summer squash or green beans. We’re planting sweet peas now. We may even try some onions or carrots or broccoli.
I also see the change in our backyard grass, the last swath of green we’ve held onto in the face of persistent drought and escalating water bills. It browns in certain places, some seasonal weeds emerge, it’s less vibrant and certainly less hearty. I’ve never given this much thought before, accepting it as part of the cycle but then I wonder why we wouldn’t give the lawn the same consideration as the garden and help it take full advantage of these new conditions. For the first time, then, I decide to overseed and as I appreciate the purpose and application of each step I realize that this process of revitalization and renewal is as crucial right now for my internal landscape as it for my external one.
Overseeding a Lawn – Overseeding a Life:
Step 1: Cut the grass low. This creates the space necessary for new seeds to take root. What needs to be trimmed away? What have I been paying too much attention to that’s taken me away from what I care most about? Symbolically, that might mean the ritual of giving away clothes I don’t wear or books I don’t read. What am I hanging onto that no longer serves me? I’m going for a mindset of simplification and preparation.
Step 2: Aerate. Most soil gets compacted preventing new seeds from getting established. I’m punching some holes in my thinking, allowing some air below the surface of my point of view. Considering ideas thoughtfully and tentatively. Testing them out again. Making them stronger by not holding them too tightly. I’m spending some time concentrating on my breath, my fitness and my stillness. I’m going to create more space. Two months ago I gave up on checking my phone first thing in the morning. Huge relief.
Step 3: Spread seed. Most new seeds don’t germinate so you need to spread a lot of it to get a good yield. I’m trying lots of things to see what sticks. Experimenting. Playing. Discovering. Listening to new podcasts, meeting new people, going to concerts, having new conversations, all in the name of affirming my commitment to those things I can’t stop paying attention to. I’m resisting the urge to jump at the first thing that seems right. I’m trying to wait, to trust that if it’s right it will still be there when I’m ready. Chances are the first thing is there to distract me from the real thing.
Step 4: Spread topsoil and fertilizer. The new seeds need both nourishment and protection. I’m finding support for my new ideas and intentions while remaining open to having them influenced. If “we are what we repeatedly do” then I’m going to do a lot of paying attention to what I have planted and trust that the right elements will emerge. And, those people who really care about my well-being, my success, my wholeness? I’m going to give them a chance to help. I’m going to ask for it. Because I don’t have to go it alone. And I know I can’t anyway.
Step 5: Water (plenty of water). Above all else, successful germination depends on water. Not too much and not too little. I’m attending to my intentions every day. I am practicing showing up and being present to them while also working very hard (and this is very hard work) to remain detached from outcomes. The rooting, the germination, takes time. This is a time of year for the patient appreciation that while so much is happening, so much of what is happening is happening below the surface. I will thoughtfully and energetically remain present in anticipation of what is, as yet, unseen.
Offered with thankfulness for all that has been and all that will be.