10.07.2013

I guess I took a break.


I didn’t mean to take a break. I didn’t mean to go away for so long. Without even saying goodbye. It just happened.

Sometimes you don’t know what you need till it’s done. This summer, I needed to get very quiet. I needed to think, but more than that, I needed to stare into space.

First I was going to blame it on the NSA. I mean, privacy? Do we have any left? I want the government to ferret out the maniacs who want to inflict death on us. What  I don’t want is Google, scanning my email so that if I write a note to a friend about her dahlias, I start getting ads for…plant nurseries. But I felt at cross-purposes with myself: here I am, writing my heart out, and at the same time, I am a very private person. What’s with that?

I sure didn’t stop working. I have never had so much work to do. Moms is growing, and the planet keeps warming.

I meant to write a book. I have an idea of what I want to say. In fact I said plenty, in drafts. But it wasn’t the right time.  I couldn’t draw from deep enough down.

[Well, actually, I did write a book: an e book for Moms Clean Air Force, about the link between our changing climate and the extreme weather hitting us more and more frequently. I’d love to hear what you think of it.] 

I didn’t take pictures all summer. I didn’t write essays. I didn’t even write letters.

Here’s what I did do: sat still for lots of sunsets. All the way to the end. Woke up in darkness to wait for the sun to rise. Walked aimlessly under starlit canopies. Watched babies grow a bit more, watched friendships get a bit deeper, watched my parents get that much more frail, watched a loved one leave this world.

Swam in the ocean every single day, because I remembered how all winter, I long for the ocean, long for the silky feel of that heavy, dark water, and so why, just because it is raining, would I deprive myself of a swim?

Thought about this dear, gorgeous planet, and the havoc we are facing, and thought about how to stay upbeat and sane in the face of fear. Well, to cut to the chase: the answer is to do everything I can as though my life depended on it.

I spent most of the summer in Rhode Island, in the guesthouse of dear and generous friends. This was the first time in over thirty years that I did not have a garden of my own to tend. By late spring I felt jangly; I did not know what to do with myself, what to do with fingers that couldn’t pry apart roots or arms that didn’t hold a shovel or legs that weren’t bracing against stone or eyes that weren’t wandering over mop-headed blooms. Again, kind friends came to the rescue, and invited me over for a bit of gardening. But it isn’t the same, you know, if it isn’t your own mess of weeds.

I haunted real estate listings.

None of this made me sad—well of course the death did. A stray cell, a clot of blood, a weak vessel, or just the simple passage of time...It just made me quiet. Thoughtful. Emptying out, to refill.

Sometimes I was so quiet that I felt like a fish, hanging in the current just under the surface of the water. Sometimes I felt like the branch of a tree, its leaves trembling in a breeze. Sometimes I felt like the child I once was, just watching in unknowing wonder.  Sometimes it scared me, how quiet I felt. But mostly I felt very happy, and light and full of peace. I decided to just let the quiet unfold. I’m quite aggressive about doing what’s right (see above, Moms Clean Air Force). But I am a gentle soul and intend to stay true to that in my dealings with people. And with myself.

And in all of this watching and wondering, I realized I was waiting. Waiting as my life changed yet again. Waiting for the answer to the question: what next? to reveal itself. Sometimes I felt like I was supposed to be practicing patience, practicing acceptance, practicing openness.

Until finally I saw, once again, the lesson that takes a lifetime and gives for a lifetime: day in and night out: what is next is what is now. Each and every moment of now, of the sunrise and starlight and moonset and fog and sparkle and cool water, every moment of laughter and tears and longing and love, all of it, that was what was coming next. If I am lucky enough to catch it.

And it is now. So I am lucky. We all are.

I’m glad to be back in touch. More later.

40 comments:

Donna Baker said...

Dominique, sounds like your summer was very productive.

Rosa Maria Castaneda said...

welcome back lady. made my day ;-)

karenrand said...

Funny, I was JUST wondering where Slow Love Life had gone in recent history... I figured you needed a break. Very nice to find you back in my inbox, Dominique!

Valorie Grace Hallinan said...

Thank you for this beautiful post. So well expressed.

dterrydraw said...

Oh, Dominique....That's all very sweet, I suppose, of you to say, but?....it's 2 late. Pretty much ALL of your formerly loyal readership has followed me over to my blog, where we've been having a H-O-T (!!!!) Summer following the outrageous antics of the hottest, young 'n sexy (!) hotties (and some of the has-been "notties", LOL!) and REAL Celebrities. Miley sure is keepin' us busy lately! What will she do next, is what most of your former readership wants to know (and I can TELL them, that's for sure!!!). While you've been slowing down, that girl has been revving and twerking everything up for the rest of your former fans.

Well, when you get tired of sitting there, all alone in your lonely blog-room, living that "slow love life" or whatever you call it, come on over to My Site (!) and join the Fast-Sexy-Love(!)-Life party!!!!

I'm trying to make nice here, you know. It's not my fault that, if you sit still, the spotlight moves on. I didn't make up the rules in this business, you know.

Sincerely,
Perez Hilton
www.perezhilton.com

dterrydraw said...

P.S. Just for the record?....welcome back, Dominique.
Sincerely,
David Terry
www.davidterryart.com

MJH Design Arts said...

Thank you. I missed you. I have come to something similar--the future isn't as important as the moment. Because the future will not exist without the now of acceptance and expectation. Be well. xoxox Mary

la Contessa said...

I too took a break this summer.......did much of nothing but it was so refreshing!I guess I rested.I closed my shop of 12 years and contemplated the next chapter.I enjoyed NOT having to be somewhere at a certain time and I enjoyed walking the aisles in the market.I enjoyed trying new recipes.........bottom line I just slowed down and enjoyed my life.
Way back to your editors letter at H&G I always was agreeing with what you were going through and thinking.I hope you find that perfect little abode soon.WE need the garden but even I have found I cannot do what I want to do anymore with out paying for it the next day!That hurts......in more ways then one!

Valerie said...

My husband was just asking about you. He's glad to hear that, once again, I will be forwarding him your musings. Thanks for the care you take with your amazing life. Love & Light, Valerie

Lolo said...

It's fine to be who you are and do what you do. A break ? Maybe. I did not forget about you. Somehow you were still there. What's more natural than taking a break ? Go with your flow.

Benita Bowen said...

Welcome, welcome, welcome, and thank you for sharing your moments with us. My garden, designed after reading Paths of Desire, is completely a tribute to your wisdom. I'm glad you're back

Bruce Barone said...

Welcome back.

"Be Here Now."

Jill Dale said...

Sounds lovely - don't let go of the realization of now. It can be fleeting if you allow it. Welcome back.

Susan Troccolo said...

Dominique, what a huge pleasure to find your essay in my inbox. I'm a fan. Nothing in your observations was foreign to me, but I resonated with your comment: "here I am writing my heart out and yet I am a very private person; what's with that." When you figure that out, will you please write about that too. I need to understand it for myself.

Judith said...

Glad you allowed yourself to be still. Glad you are back.

Pat said...

Welcome back! Missed you! How wonderful you had the time and place to "experience" yourself but also the wisdom to recognize what you needed. Looking forward to reading about your "journey".

William said...

Dominique - If you are back in the city, don't miss the Conservatory Garden right now, it's looking damn good as summer has turned to fall. I consider it to be 'my own mess of weeds', but I gladly share it with others. Also, to keep you in touch with that summer peace and time for personal reflection, I strongly recommend a complete 'digital holiday' from 9am Saturday to 9am Monday - phone, computer all OFF! Every weekend! I have inspired so many converts in my friends, that I think I might be starting a 'movement'!

lindab said...

Lying fallow? Crop rotation? Every garden needs a period of dormancy. I'm glad your inner landscape experienced some shifts and realignments. And now... we look forward to the next season w. you, Dominique.

Maureen said...

Well I definitely missed you.....I enjoy the way you capture (and photograph) the simple and not-so-simple twists and turns of life's journey, on the streets of NYC, in the garden and around our planet. ...you were missed. I hope to read more soon.
Maureen

christine said...

I am so pleased you are back -I found myself hunting for your e-mails, beautiful writing and lovely photographs. you make my heart sing

Cristina said...

welcome back Ms. Browning! hopefully here to stay, this time.

momma50 said...

Just wow. This is exactly what I needed to hear. Beautiful.

Tricia said...

Good to hear from you again. And, as always, about something that resonated with me. Even though it wasn't an extremely hot summer, I found this summer heat forced me to rest between spurts of "doing." I learned that relaxing can be quite enjoyable. I no longer equate it to being lazy or unproductive. I am 68 and still learning important life lessons.

Michele said...

Oh, so very good to read your words today. A lovely distillation of emotions and thoughts. Thank you, Dominique.

Lori said...

I'm glad you're back. I missed you

Sheryl said...

I missed you. Glad you took the time and space you needed. Glad you are back. This post is spot on!

Jayne On Weed Street said...

I am so glad you are back. There is only space for 12 bookmarks at the top of my screen! Slow Love Life holds one of those KEY spaces in my daily computer life. I DID NOT want to move you out! But as the weeks and months passed, I had to wonder if you were coming back?? You are back and SLOW LOVE LIFE stays on top! I came across a Wendall Berry poem this week which addressed some of my quests, 'The Peace of Wild Things.' I love the last line, my mantra for the week:
For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free

Clara said...

I'd wondered where you went. Great to have you back. Your blog has been an inspiration.

Doug Hein said...

I loved this post - I'm struck by how much your stewardship of the blog, your friendship and your writing means to readers, including myself. I created two Tumblr sites after my father died, one a love letter to him and another to northern New Mexico, partly inspired by Slow Love Life because it was the first blog I followed. It took me a while to achieve some balance between writing about what matters and privacy. People become attached to your posts and being part of this conversation, but you have a life that you live consciously and well. Perhaps that's the lesson, and I'm grateful for threads that keep you in touch.
Your words resonated deeply as I plan to end a career I've had for almost thirty years and move to the Southwest, hopefully before the New Year. My partner is already there, so not much holds me to New England. I hope I remember to watch the light and snow on the Utah mountains (and the stars) for as long as I want.

karensandburg said...

I was hoping a book was in the wings. Sounds like one is aching to get out. I'll be "patient." Welcome back!

Erica said...

I wish we were friends...because whenever I read your posts I feel that same comforting agreement that like-minded spirits feel. Glad you're back. I am longing to be quiet too - but my 3 young children and life as a single mom trying to save the world lends itself to yelling - a lot of it...and even more crying. Wishing you more quiet, thoughtful, beautiful days.

guest said...

God speed to you Doug

Sally said...

The pleasure your editorial gave me in House and Garden was so precious I also mourned the loss of you/magazine. Loved your book Paths of Desire and am looking forward to reading Slow Love and Around the House and in the Garden; keep writing please!!!

William said...

Dominique,


Do you have an opinion on the NYC mayoral election?

Violet Cadburry said...

Well, we will be waiting for your next warble. Maybe a spooky Halloween post about how manage the bats in your familial attic? Or, a post on why slow love is better than tantric. Maybe the cooler weather will spark you to warm our cyber chilled minds. We miss you!

angela detmers said...

Dear Dominique,
far away from you I'm writing you from the north of germany. But I can sign every single word you have written. It's a strange feeling, to see how near I can share my own feelings with unknown people with a huge ocean between us.. I'm working as a consultant for manager in the field of slowdown development (I'm not sure if this is the right trasnslation) and I would wish for each of them they could make - and feel! -such an experience as you did. For myself I'm on my way, sometimes happy, sometimes not, I work at it. But what I feel in the deep of my heart: there will be no other way to find freedom and balance in our lifes as to met ourselves in quietness with a lot of time and doing nothing as to look to the sky......
My best whishes for you
Angela
Www.slowlife-now.com

guest said...

I guess you took another one!

William said...

Dominique,


I keep checking back to see if you have posted and see that you haven't. I'm guessing that 'something is up'.


I hope you are doing okay and that you have a good Thanksgiving.

kameliya said...

I'm looking for sites where I can find all the necessary training.'m Very happy that I was familiar with your site., For teaching that I thank you for your siteراهبند

melina-touke said...

I'm looking for sites where I can find all the necessary

training.'m Very happy that I was familiar with your site., For teaching that I

thank you for your siteراهبند