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Volume 15, Issue 18 ~ May 3 - May 9, 2007

Bay Reflections

A Writer’s Return

Neglected creativity is like an untended garden

By Paul Renstead

I confess to being a garden addict. It is an addiction similar to the one I have for tea and caffeine. I think of gardening when I wake up, and I think of it before I go to sleep at night. In winter, I study garden catalogs and visit the garden section of the library. True happiness comes when I am digging a hole, planting something, tending a living thing.

The cycle of life always comes to mind when I think of my garden: the birth and new life of spring, the thriving and vigorous growth of summer, the decline of fall and the death and decay of winter.

This year my garden had a new twist. I saw that cycle in miniature, much like the many wheels of an old pocket watch work to turn the larger gears, which tracks time.

Dragging a bag of mulch to the far side of the garden, I noticed that some of my iris had formed blooms overnight. I felt a momentary flash of excitement, followed by a sudden feeling of melancholy. That time of hope and renewal seemed an odd time to have such an autumnal sense intrude.

Instead of immersing myself in mulching, I sat down. Was this a telltale sign that midlife issues are intruding in my peace of mind? It felt important to me to understand what I was experiencing and even more importantly to understand why I was feeling the way I was.

After a moment I decided that the way to unravel the feeling was to write about it. The idea was prompted by a recent telephone call from a favorite high school English teacher.

Writing these thoughts was exciting. Playing with words to convey meaning … Listening to the way words sound together and adding and subtracting them for the sake of sound and meaning … Completing a poem, a hallmark (with a small H) event, providing a sense of accomplishment in a process long neglected.

In the cult film classic Harold and Maude there is a wonderful scene in which free-spirited Maude asks Harold whether he plays an instrument. When he responds in the negative, her reply is “I thought not.” When we neglect to tend our creativity, it shows.

Creativity comes in many forms. I see it around me in nature every day. Finding ways to nurture our own creativity can be a challenge in a world filled with responsibilities.

For me, this creative jumpstart was about picking up a pen and writing after a long time away from that craft. It reminded me that creativity is not a gift given only to children. Sometimes we need to make it a priority. The reward is usually different — and much richer — than you expect.

Paul Renstead, who gardens in Fairhaven, thanks Mr. Frost, his champion teacher of creativity. This is his first work in Bay Weekly.

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