- THE AUSTRALIAN
I was sweeping up some little fruits that fall into my garden for a few weeks at this time of year. They are a sweet-smelling and of many different colours ranging from bright orange to blood red.
Humans can’t eat them but they attract a plethora of bats, which swoop down late at night and feed on them. This makes me happy: watching the huge black wings, hearing the squawking, feeling alive in nature even in the middle of the city.
But the fruits are a nuisance. They get squished on to my terracotta tiles and leave stains. So I sweep them up constantly. This time I felt cranky as I swept.
“It’s a never-ending job,” I grumbled to myself. Then it dawned on me with a thud. A whole year had gone since I last swept them, a summer, autumn, winter and spring.
I felt anxiety rising in the pit of my stomach, overwhelmed by the realisation of the rapid passing of time.
I thought of the Garden of Eden story. Adam and Eve were banished from paradise because they ate of the fruit that awakened them to reality.
Standing amid the fruit and decay, with my broom and gardening gloves and the green bin, I awakened to the knowledge that it was all going by so fast, too fast.
For many it happens on New Year’s Eve or birthdays. For me it was there in the growing things that bloom and die. It somehow sunk in more deeply that I was just hanging to the tree branch, ripened, fecund, and at any time could drop like so many friends who are ill or gone.
I put down the broom, went into the house and began Googling a university degree in something I’d always secretly wanted to become when I grew up — always doubting I was capable, terrified of failing.
There’s a need in all of us to self-actualise, to fulfil our potential and express all the wisdom bursting out of us: to follow a dream that makes our hearts sing, even while still making a living or raising kids. We claim we don’t have time to grow, change, do what we truly want. Add up all the hours of inane conversations, internet, Facebook, TV, and you’ll find months just like that. It’s never that we don’t have time, it’s that we use time unwisely.
I don’t want to fall from the tree having not given everything a go.
A quote by Anais Nin came to me in that garden: “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”