In all areas of social media we are bombarded with the ’this is the time to start fresh’, or ’…to learn XYZ’, and best of all ’if Newton came up with the theory of gravity during a major pandemic, what are YOU waiting for!?’

I don’t know about you, but to me it feels more like I am a mouse. One born and raised in a comfy lab. Then one day, without any warning mind you, the lab technician comes in and suddenly takes away my maze. ’Mouse, reinvent yourself!’ Hmmm. I just don’t think it works that way.

I think everyone was and still is trying to figure out what is going on, to find their footing. For some preaching cheap dime store advice is a form of coping. For others it is nesting. I myself felt this immense urge to clean everything. Twice. Then to organize and purge anything and everything that I did not find an immediate purpose for. And all with the sense of utmost urgency. I was Marie Kondo on steroids!

I also had this sudden idea to grow something, anything. Perhaps I needed something to nurture, or to satisfy this sense that I was providing for our family. I sew some chili seeds and almost immediately started stalking the makeshift greenhouse to see how much the seeds have grown. And the darn things would not grow! They would not germinate instantly! How dare they!!!

We were perhaps a few weeks into the lock-down when I was first able to articulate to myself that I was mourning. Mourning the loss of social interaction. The simple act of walking arm in arm with a friend. Or kissing a family member. Or our pho dinners in our favorite restaurant. I lost the outside, my sense of normalcy. All that remained was the 4 walls and the question, now what?

Funny thing is, with this acknowledgement came relief. I felt letting out a huge, long withheld breath. I felt my jaw and shoulders relax. That weird knot that was in my neck for weeks, it disappeared. I was sleeping better. And just then, something fuzzy appeared at the top of the soil.

I still went back to the little pot 3 times a day. But this time in a much different state of mind. I just stood there, mesmerized and trying to take everything in. Trying to see how the little plant would get its leaf out of the seed pod. How the sun beam was slowly moving along the pot, then the stems, then the leaves. I looked forward to those moments. To see what would happen from one day to the next. They became a point of focus inside all this craziness that was going on outside, and all the uncertainties that were still looming inside.

I think what I learned is to let go. In my life I’ve become so solution oriented, with the attitude of ‘let’s get the things done yesterday’, that I felt so incredibly lost and helpless. Sowing those seeds, helping something as small and seemingly banal as a bush of chili come to life helped me ground myself.

The first of many.

My focus altered. Instead of focusing on news and the latest statistics I chose to pick up my watering can and head outside. And with this simple act I feel this bush of chili, this tiny little plant with the peppers hung like little red lights, helped me to find some peace of mind.

The harvesting has started. The chilies are now in our freezer just waiting to bring added liveliness to our soups and curries in the months to come. And that taste, that incredible flavorful and hotness will serve as a reminder of the joy of slowing down.

.. and this is for next year!*

*mag: Hungarian for seed

If you liked this post you might also enjoy…