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Do every act of your life as though it is the last act of your life. --Marcus Aurelius

Blueberries & the Art of Being Present

--by Alanda Greene, syndicated from heartfulnessmagazine.com, Apr 02, 2017

thoughts-on-natureWhen fruits are ripe, there is always the tendency to rush the harvesting. ALANDA GREENE shares her experience of having an attitude of poise and being present in the moment instead of rushing to finish the task.


More than with any other berry in the garden, picking blueberries invokes a sense of urgency. I feel it as I see the clusters of deep blue-black orbs, and then see another cluster and another. The feeling is: hurry, there are so many, there is so much to be done, and there’s more there, and there behind you, and over in that bush. Another feeling is also evoked: that there is suddenly so much to do, not enough time. I’ve got to get them picked and frozen, or cooked into jam, or laid out for eating later, or baked into something yummy or delivered to a neighbor. There’s a mild panic that comes with a task that evokes time pressure.

I have to admit I have a suspicion that, like missing socks in the washing, these berries can come in and out of other dimensions. I first suspected this with raspberries, when harvesting them. I would kneel down, spread the canes apart, look from left and right, and look up and down. After moving down the row to the next area, sometimes I looked back to where I had just been, only to discover large red ripe raspberries hanging there. They were hiding in another dimension! It’s the only explanation. They cannot escape if I keep my eye on them, hold them in place and then pick them, but if I let go of my gaze to finish what I am currently picking, the berries disappear.

Truth be told, sometimes blueberries make me feel
just like a little kid in a candy store.


Hence, with these blueberries, when a ripe cluster emerges just on the edge of my field of vision, I must turn and pluck them. But then another unseen cluster emerges. Hold that one. And where was I? Where were those other berries? They have gone. I have to work fast to get them before they escape.

Truth be told, sometimes blueberries make me feel just like a little kid in a candy store. I remember taking my 93-year-old mother-in-law out shopping in a wheel chair. Shopping was an activity that always gave her great pleasure and she hadn’t been out of her house for a long time. She was enthralled. Always a chocolate lover, the racks of various bars and boxes at eye level brought that look to her eyes. She reached and grabbed anything that was within reach. With little gasps, her hand going this way and that, and in spite of my efforts not to deliberately entice this, she had an overflowing lap of various chocolate treasures by the time we got to the check out counter. I recognize something of that enticement, the call of these sweet delicacies, the overwhelm of abundance. Soon I have an overflowing container of blueberries and still the pressure is there to keep picking.

Picking with my focus fully in the moment changes everything.
After some time a gentleness comes. …
I keep picking, but there are moments of timeless absorption …
It all has the feel of perfection. Some magic has worked on my mind.

Today I meet the challenge of the blueberry imperative. “No!” I say, when the feeling arises, when I feel overwhelmed at so many berries needing attention, calling, “pick me, pick me.”

“No, we don’t have to hurry. There is all the time we need. Just this act in just this moment is just the right thing. It will never be more worthwhile than right now, never more complete, never more meaningful than being present with what I am doing, in relationship with the blueberries, in remembrance and gratitude.”

Everything changes with this approach. The experience of these berries, their shape and scent, their beauty and abundance on the shiny-leaved stalks, is more vibrant and more complete. Today I did not approach this picking as another chore in the list of many things to do. The list is part of having a garden when things are ripening all together, when the time for harvest follows its own rhythm and not my imposed schedule. Yes, I do need to pick blueberries when they are ready, as they do not respond to an imagined date in a few days time, when I can schedule an opening, in between blackberries and broccoli.

But picking with my focus fully in the moment changes everything.

After some time a gentleness comes. The beauty of these deep frosty blue spheres, the crenulated rim on one pole, their flavor and squishy softness on my tongue… it all starts to work on me, starts to gentle my mind the way soft speech will calm a skittish horse. I keep picking, but there are moments of timeless absorption, taking in the image of round berries in green leaves, the chortles and whines of the newly hatched families of nuthatches at the edge of the forest, whispers of hazelnut leaves moved to comment by the soft breeze. It all has the feel of perfection. Some magic has worked on my mind.

Syndicated from Heartfulness Magazine. Find them at Heartfulness.org or on Facebook. Author Alanda Greene lives in the Purcell Mountains of British Columbia, Canada. Having a deep connection with nature, she and her husband built their house of stone and timber and a terraced garden, and integrated their life into this rural community. Alanda’s primary focus is the conscious integration of spirit with all aspects of life. 


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