Retroladytyping …

Starting over … in slippers

space clearing

I recently had a  conversation with a creative friend when we talked about writing being a form of therapy.  Yes, it certainly is, but, depending on my mood and how much nervous energy I need to expend, sometimes I need to be more active.

When that happens, gardening is the only activity which does the job enough for me to rest easily.

I used to think it was because of the exhaustion and sore muscles (aka being completely knackered) which follow a long session outside:   there was one occasion when, feeling annoyed because The One Who Likes Hitting Small Balls With a Strange Shaped Bat (aka playing golf), decided it was more important to do that than to remove the ivy which was slowly strangling our brickwork, I decided to do the job myself.   I tugged, ripped (several fingernails in the process), sweated, strained and eventually succeeded in denuding the wall by the garage.  I felt so much better, having used up all my anger.   Job done.  A blank  wall and a feeling of happy exhaustion and (not so) quiet satisfaction at leaving The One Who etc … a huge pile of debris to clear up.

As well as  using up nervous energy, I think it’s about starting again.  That blank garage wall became an, as yet untouched,   canvas for further creation.  There is something very therapeutic and renewing about digging, raking, cutting and clearing  a untidy area of the garden and planting anew.  There is then hope that whatever has gone awry can be corrected;  even after repeated attempts, there is hope that this time it will succeed and look perfect come June and July.  It won’t; I know that; it never does, as is proved by the many times I take my coffee outside for a sunshine sit-down, or while putting washing on the line,  and spot something which needs sorting immediately. Several hours later and without bothering to change into ‘gardening’ clothes,  I feel satisfied that there is again hope for the future.  There is mud under my nails,  I have scratches up my arms and I need a good hose down,  but I already feel refreshed and renewed.

Returning to the original idea of writing as therapy – maybe a blank sheet of paper, or computer screen, fulfils the same need to start over with  no dress code.

old man I found this picture on google.  The title is ‘Old Man Writing by Candlelight in Pyjamas’.  It reminded me of the friend in the first sentence, who is a midnight writer, as I am a dawn gardener.  He is definitely not old, but I think he would  like to be this man one day.  Whereas I would like to be, and probably already am,  ‘Middle-aged (and a bit)  Woman Gardening at Dawn in  Slippers,’ the point being that we each feel a need to do what we do, whenever we do it and however we do it,  without regard for convention.  It’s our therapy.    At least it is for me.  I know I would be (even more) stressed and miserable without that therapy.  So really, it’s a way of protecting my family and friends from the fall-out,  my motives are, therefore,  entirely selfless … naturally.

Since thinking of gardening as therapy,   I’ve discovered that there are a wealth of scholarly articles on the benefits for mental health of gardening.  I’m not at all surprised.  I was going to read one or two, but I’ve just spotted a huge dandelion in the middle of my petunia bed – how dare it?  It is going to die.  Where are my slippers?

gardening in slippers