I always dreamt of becoming an Archeologist.
I had grand plans of becoming a superhero/adventurer, part Wonder Woman and part Indiana Jones, tromping through the desert sands uncovering treasures and dusting off the next great thing for mankind. I loved the challenge, the mystery, the sheer romance of it.
But what I never expected was how this desire would later emerge in my real life.
Let me rewind for a moment ….
Here at the new salon location we’ve moved to, we now have a garden to play with! Yes, our little 1950’s house sits on a small block with an unruly garden. I’ve learnt that shortly before we moved in, it was overrun, unloved and untended. There was a little chainsaw action before we arrived, but that’s about it.
A Vision Takes Root, Blossoms Into A Plan
When I stand at the front gate, I picture the house and garden in its heyday. I can see the small holes in the concrete fence where the little iron gate would have been, the rounded troughs in the earth where a tree once rose. She is beautiful but neglected; her life isn’t over, just dormant.
As the spring sun gave us reasons to smile last weekend, I hastily gathered as many small flowering plants as my wallet could handle. I’d planned to fill the gateway garden bed with colour, alleviating the dullness of an empty space covered in pine needles.
Standing back from the lawn, I let my imagination overlay reality with images of neatly edged beds, filled with blooms and welcoming friends. There were old bricks scattered about the backyard, under trees and shrouded in thorny weeds. As I plucked the bricks from amongst the roots, I avoided the spiders’ nests, scraped off years of encrusted dirt, and stacked them up in preparation for my vision.
The house had provided the bricks, a small broken shovel and an idea. All I had to do was make it happen.
A Surprising Discovery
My first strike into the soil was sharp. The loam gave way easily, but beneath it I hit an unexpected resistance. Down on my hands and knees, denim soaked in mud, my fingers curiously pushed back the earth.
What I found, in the very spot I’d chosen to slice my shovel, was the original concrete garden edging, roughly 10cm below the soil. Whether this had been deliberately grown over or was the work of years of debris and neglect was unclear.
But the sheer joy of finding this small piece of history overwhelmed me as, thrilled, I dug away more and more to reveal the extent of the original design.
Sure, it’s a small thing and certainly no ancient discovery, yet it provided an even stronger sense of connectedness to this place. I revelled in how my vision for this space dovetailed with the original plans, and that I could be a catalyst for bringing them back to life.
An Unexpected Life Lesson Emerges
I could have stayed in that cold dirt for hours, chipping away at the layers, with my mind so full of parallels: How deeply we bury our original plans for ourselves, letting them become neglected in the debris of daily life. How expediency and convenience so often become weeds that strangle our intentions of beauty enjoyed at a gentle pace. How we settle for the lot we are given rather than digging deeper to find another way, getting our hands dirty in the process. I found myself waxing unexpectedly philosophical.
I may only be her keeper as a tenant, but I cannot help but take a sense of ownership.
I need to rescue, to strip back the layers and let the original beauty shine. It’s a kind of therapy for me, in much the same way that I love taking moth-eaten, beaded cardigans and darning them back into worthy service. In our throwaway society, this gives me a sense of connectedness, of greater meaning and purpose.
This type of mindfulness carries over into my consumption habits and helps me see the end game — to slow down and appreciate what lies beneath, and to leave things better than we found them.
Have you ever had a similar experience, where the mundane starts your mind racing philosophically? Did it transport you back to your childhood dreams? Are you seeing things differently as a result? I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments below …