Horticultural Time

10 Jun 2014

There's a warm breeze on my face, sunshine pouring down on my head, and I'm thinking "I'm getting better at this". Not much. But enough to notice.

It's summer, 2014. I started yoga in spring.

I think that 'seasons', not hours, or days or even the weeklong sprints we use in software development, are the right reflection period for a lot of things. Check in too often, out of impatience or misplaced efficiency, and you get a motivation-sapping flat line or a confusingly erratic signal.

The plants on my balcony grow in seasons. If you tried an inspect-and-adapt cycle on them every day, you'd conclude that nothing makes a difference to them. And this made me think of a phrase coined in passing in one of my mindfulness books: "horticultural time". Just like "geological time" moves as fast as a layer of rock, thinking in horticultural time means a minimum unit of "about as long as it takes for a plant to do something".

I've noticed, too, that things rarely get suddenly better. Life is a sawtooth, trending up, with steady gains erratically reversed by occasional catastrophe. Plants grow in a season but die in a day. But we're wired to notice things that happen quickly.

Bad things happen in real time. Good things happen in horticultural time. And that's why we miss them.