Thinking Time

The last few days of February and the first of March are the most challenging for me when it comes to maintaining this blog. It’s not that I am working every hour that God sends, or that there is nothing happening in my garden, but that I have no time to think. My overworked brain wants to contemplate and explore ideas for new posts, but is stymied by the sheer amount I am expecting it to process. I feel exhausted and frustrated at my lack of inspiration.

As I look around the overcrowded tube carriage on my way home tonight, the majority of my travelling companions are, like me, doing something on their phones or tablets, or listening to music, whilst the rest are reading. A few folk chat and one young woman is asleep, but no one is voluntarily unoccupied. I envy the blind man sitting opposite me, apparently the only person on the train who is deep in thought. He looks calm and rested, as does his doleful guide dog. Nobody else appears in the least relaxed and a few look faintly crazed. This is London after all. I cannot imagine anything more dreadful that not being able to see, but the blind man is not distracted by what’s going on around him. That, in a sense, is a gift we all increasingly deny ourselves. We seem hell-bent on occupying every waking moment with some form of stimulation, most of which adds little value to our lives. TV, Radio, You Tube, Facebook, Instagram, The Metro, idle banter: as tempting as a ring doughnut and equally full of emptiness. Sometimes a doughnut is OK, but usually not.

Hellebores, London, February 2016

Perhaps this view is just a reflection on my own life, my own lack of discipline and on my current weariness, but I am increasingly troubled by my inability to switch off. I feel uncomfortable when there is nothing going on around me: silence is not so much golden as unnerving. So as well as the time to think, I worry I could lose the desire to think, which for a creative mind is pretty much the end of the line. Having made no New Year’s resolutions this year I am hereby committing to myself (and to you) that I will give my brain, as well as my body, a break when the dust settles at work, taking time to listen to the dawn chorus, to watch a flower opening, to observe raindrops rolling from a leaf ….. and to take more time to just sit and think.

While I do, please enjoy my attempts to take artistic photographs of my hellebores.

Hellebores, London, February 2016

 

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30 thoughts on “Thinking Time

  1. A spot on post, Dan. Our modern society and our see-it-now gadgets pull us away from our capacity and need to dream, imagine, and contemplate in a sea of silence. Thank you for reclaiming your mental rest and your right to inspiration. I love the golden hue in the wood behind the flowers.

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  2. Both the photographs and the hellabores are stunning, Dan.
    Perhaps you could consider learning relaxation techniques? I was taught this many years ago at a University Psychology Dept to help overcome stress induced sleep problems. That stress has long gone but the useful technique stays with me. It does take some homework but is easy to learn and can be used anywhere, even on the tube!r

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  3. Beautiful blossoms! Relaxing meaningfully is a skill once learnt, not easily forgotten. Elizabeth makes a good point. Hope you find time to enjoy your garden this weekend!

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  4. A wonderful post that got me thinking. This is a good time to be planning gardens and your description of the contented blind man on the Tube got be thinking that most of our garden planning is all about sight and we often forget the senses of sound and smell. Incorporating a heavenly scented Daphne or a wind rustled Miscanthus could add so much more to a garden rather than just showy colours. Thank you for the creative stimulation your blog has given me. πŸ™‚

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  5. The hellebores are gorgeous. It’s probably taken me a year to adjust to retiring, which sort of happened partly because work ran out, the body stores all these needs for stimulation I think. So, one year on, I am finally feeling rested, though still with lots I love doing.

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  6. What gorgeous hellebores. Your thoughts really touched me. You are not alone! Many of us feel the same so thank goodness for plants and gardens – and your fantastic blog (interesting, fun, inspirational, entertaining and educational) – to keep us sane.

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  7. Jobs have rhythms, just like the seasons – we tend to cut nature some slack (that’s just the way it is) but to feel that work-based pressures have something artificial, man-made, about them. They have – but human nature is just another form of nature! A new collection always has birthing pains towards the end – all you can do is clear the decks and go with it (as I know you do). And, of course, you’re a perfectionist, which means you spend too much time skirting on the edge of dissatisfaction.

    You are very clear sighted to be able to write like this, but I don’t sense any danger you are going to lose the desire to think. Your own instincts (that feeling uncomfortable when ‘nothing is going on’ is not great) and your planned solutions will save you. After all, summer’s on its way!

    I’m sending you (and your poor sweetheart) a hug.

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    1. Thank you Susan. Hug gratefully received. I like to think I am pretty good at identifying what isn’t quite right in my life, but recognise I am not always the best at addressing my problems. I am hopeless at saying no, although see some improvement as I get older!

      You are quite right about being a perfectionist which, when combined with being an optimist, means I am always striving for bigger and better things. I doubt this will ever change, but I shall be jolly glad to have this year’s Christmas collection tied up. I have even booked a couple of days holiday to catch up in the garden and do some thinking.

      Thank you for your thoughtful and insightful comment and have a brilliant weekend.

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  8. Very interesting post, Dan. You sound wiser than your years, and that is meant as a compliment. πŸ™‚ I love the internet and technology and especially blogging, but every day I choose balance in my life and have times I check in and times I leave for living life in the here and now. In my mind, there is a real difference in smelling that rose, hearing that bird, feeling that rain, digging in that soil, and watering that seedling rather than posting about doing it on Facebook. But, that’s just me, and to put that in perspective, I still prefer to talk to people and maintain eye contact rather than text them when they are in the same room. πŸ™‚ Enjoy your weekend and get some thinking time in. πŸ™‚

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    1. Sounds like you have got the balance in your life right Judy. I aspire to do better from now on, starting with emails at work which, having spent a week leaving them until the end of the day, I find do not need to dictate my working day. Have a super weekend πŸ˜€

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  9. The weekend is nearly here. Have tea in your greenhouse, or your library and just look at the hellebores. Those are some beauties, they deserve some one on one time with you. Not doing a fashion shoot, just enjoying their essence. Enjoy!

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  10. Great photos as always Dan Thanks!
    I reckon you are in the midst of the post cold low and its February.. a horrid month when its not winter nor is it quite spring yet…Next week is March and I am hoping your inspiration and creativity will return! (I hope mine do too as I feel a bit like your description right now!) Enjoy a weekend filled with nothing in particular and just go with the flow…!

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    1. I reckon so too Anne! And work is tough at this time of year. I have been in the office for 62 hours this week – I am sure there’s a law about that! I should really have stuck to a career in horticulture πŸ˜‰ I will relish this weekend and hope you do too. Dan

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  11. Dear Dan,

    Clear you mind, smell the flowers, “feed” your eyes with beautiful views and your ears with the music you like… Be with the one / ones you love ( both literally and virtually ). Enjoyy every precious moment of your life…just slow down a bit ( I know how difficult it is sometimes, but just give it a try… )

    Anyway spring and summer are on the way – the sun is higher ( more light = better photos and better mood ).

    Love your posts here but if you feel tired and need some time to think things over, I can wait as long as you feel you are ready to write again πŸ™‚
    ( Don’t make us wait too long, though πŸ™‚ )
    Thank you for being so reflective and vulnerable and most of all thanks for sharing your thoughts and ideas with us.
    Have a nice, wonderful, relaxing and peaceful ( for your mind and body ) weekend.

    πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

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    1. Thank you Paul. Don’t worry, I have no plans to let up on the blogging. When all my immediate deadlines at work pass next week I will feel a big sense of relief. And on Sunday I am hoping to go to my second snowdrop and hellebore day of the year, which is guaranteed to lift my spirits. I have not been home to Broadstairs for 2 weeks so I am hoping when I get there I will not find too much that needs doing.

      Wishing you a very relaxing weekend yourself. Thank you for always taking the time to leave a comment.

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  12. Thanks Dan. I envy you the hellebore and snowdrop day…but tomorrow I am going myself to the biggest garden fair in Poland – “Gardenia” . Hope to find and buy some new interesting perennials to my garden. How is your cough, by the way?

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  13. Anne Guy, you took the very words out of my mouth re the month of February – I always think it’s a month in limbo!! I’m retired but still manage to do the daftest things because in my brain I’m at least 8 hours ahead – thinking of what I have to do!! Last week I ran (there I go, rushing again) down to Tesco for a few items. Thought I’d save time so went on the ”automatic check-outs”. So intent on collecting my change especially the notes, that I ran (there’s that word again) out quickly, jumped into my car and drove home. It wasn’t until I arrived on my drive-way that it suddenly registered I’d left my shopping – didn’t even think to pack it!!!! My long suffering husband went down and collected it – Tesco staff had kindly packed it in a paper carrier bag!! Dan – another great post – I, too, cannot sit or relax for long and envy those that procrastinate. Just love those hellebores. I like to display (cut them with stems just an inch long) these gorgeous blooms by floating in a nice glass bowl! Enjoy your Sunday snowdrop and hellebore gazing!

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  14. I have been thinking along the same lines recently. Always thinking I should be doing something, crossing something off a list or being actively constructive. In the end I just prevaricate a lot, feel pressured and am frustrated with the results. We need to make time to just be. Let me know how you get on and pass on any tips.

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  15. Yes, London is a whirl of activity, or apparent activity even. But it matches the whirl inside my head. Working fulltime took up creative energy, but I loved what I did – a change of direction is still a whirl of activity, and will always be so, but I am in charge of what I do and the camera is giving me new opportunities of which I never dreamed before. I enjoy your writing – hang in there, finish the work projects, take a holiday – and keep travelling!

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  16. I should be ‘clearing my desk’, but have been reading your recent blogs instead. Your brain is whizzing around, but you provide ideas and thoughts and beautiful pictures for others to enjoy. I made a conscious decision not to do Facebook, Twitter or Instagram or similar, I do not know what I am missing but would struggle to find the time. Here in rural Devon we have rubbish broadband and no mobile signal, so no point in having a smart phone. Take time each day to smell the flowers, or watch them opening, or just enjoy them, as we enjoy your blogs.

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    1. Tomorrow is D-Day Tina. Then Christmas will be ‘in the bag’ for another year! I am sort of glad reading my blog is more appealing than clearing your desk, although in my experience almost anything is more appealing than clearing my own desk, including emptying my bin πŸ˜‰ Thank you for your kind words and encouragement.

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