So, how do you know?

How do you know when the berries are ripe?

Or when it’s time to cut the hay?

And when do the fledglings know it’s time to leave the nest or the goslings leave the lake?

Or the leaves start to turn, and the fungi push their fruiting bodies into the air? 

It’s not a knowing that can be measured with a clock or simple metrics.

Because it all depends…

On multiple factors, many of which are outside of our awareness.

But you know by the taste when you’ve picked the berries too early, even if they look the right colour.

One of the ways we know is that they offer resistance to being pulled. And this can only be felt.

Oh yes, it’s that waiting again, waiting until it’s ready. 

And we do find that uncomfortable.

Because that also takes paying attention and noticing when the time is right.

And if we don’t act at the right time, we lose the opportunity and the dark berries are overripe, dropping like purple musty mush in our hands.

So maybe the answer is choosing to be immersed in a different, counter-cultural rhythm.

Because if it’s all down to us, actively waiting without a rhythm that can carry us forward is pretty tiring.

And trying to hold all of the potential elements in our heads is almost impossible.

Giving up control and entering the flow is the only option.

And that’s not just about finding the perfectly ripe berries, either.

Go gently.

Pause. See differently. Re-story 🌿

~

This week

I have found this week quite challenging in places. A ‘how much longer … and can I keep doing this’ kind of week. Therefore in my re-engagement with the notion of time, I’ve been grateful for other voices and the reminder in the poem on Monday (as well as enjoying the beautiful image of the damp hydrangea flower).

Creating space

I am aware that it’s hard to create the space to re-examine our relationship with time. We have been conditioned for so long to prioritise Chronos time and going faster, and the finger-pointing of ‘wasting time’ has a loud echo in our inner ear.

Therefore I have been particularly grateful to encounter the work of the writer and broadcaster Carl Honoré this week. Carl’s epiphany arose from an unexpected source – bedtime reading to his son, and he is both hugely relatable and a brilliant communicator. His 2005 TED Talk – In Praise of Slowness – is a good introduction, and his first book, In Praise of Slow: How a Worldwide Movement is Challenging the Cult of Speed, is a good read. His work since then includes applying this lens to ageing, education, and parenting, with gratitude to Phil Steer for pointing me in Carl’s direction.