Nothing is more delightful on a hot, summer's day than a deep dark shadow, dappled shade or a passing cloud. Yet, in our lives we resent these obstructions of the light in our path. Refusing to look at them, we gaze at the sun stubbornly, the "good" parts of our lives. The result is obvious in a material sense, we become blinded, and in a symbolic sense we project those shadows onto the people around us, blind to the fact that they are our own. These projected villains must play one role only in our lives, and that is to make us look at our own shadow finally.
This is a big reason that I'm choosing to plant an orchard rather than melons or some low-growing, faster-developing crop that casts only the smallest shadows in the brilliant sunshine. I plan to enjoy the dark shadows that fall beneath the canopy of my storied place. My goal is to fall in love with the villains as much as the heroes finally. Because without the villains poking the heroes like voodoo doctors there would be no chance of the heroes' transformations. I plan to sink down to the tips of my tree's roots to find the nutrition of this fertile field.
When you think of the combination of shadows and roots, as compared to the trees, leaves and branches and fruit, it really comes out about equally in terms of light and dark. The birds and butterflies interact with the canopy. The worms and ants interact with the roots. All told there are stories abounding above and below in a constant rhythm of life. And, me? I get to walk in the dappled sunlight between the worlds, looking up to the backlit green, and looking down into the pithy earth. My role is to be a caretaker of words, and let them flow and grow, and nurture them as well as I can.
How does one let writing happen? In the past it was all about forcing the growth, plotting and planning some idea into shape and size. To think of it as cultivation rather than production is something new. Cultivating an atmosphere in my brain where life can take hold and courageously grow means that I am more a channel than a manufacturer. It means that all I can do is hold a vision in my mind of that full grown peach tree, the blossoms, the leaves, the deep roots and finally the fruit, and do things like water, prune and fertilize.
Like I've said before, I've got the fertilization part down.
There's a spring-fed stream at the bottom of my field. It has sometimes become choked with debris and causes a soggy flooding of my field. So as the shadows grow longer this summer, and the sun creeps down South, I'll be working at clearing the stream and investigating ways of irrigating. How does one irrigate up hill? It must be possible. A tree may need 5 gallons of water per watering. How can a writer divvy up the emotions of experience so that there is just enough and not too much?
Right now I'm not at all worried about pruning. When the time comes to edit my work, I will turn to an expert for help. Now, I just want to set up the field so it works for an orchard of trees to grow from pits. The sun is at its zenith today. It is really summer solstice finally. For the next three months, I'll be looking at the potential pits, preparing the field, and getting the irrigation set up finally so that it doesn't overwhelm the orchard next spring.
I'll keep in mind the delightful shade of an orchard as my intended end-game while I work away at the endless chores of a writer that seem sometimes more like delay and procrastination than like the preparation they should be. Writing, surprisingly is not all about putting the words on the page. Writing is more about the cultivation of space, time and the flow of emotions.