Some of my thoughts on doing the Diploma… continued


“you can’t expect to be old and wise, if you were never young and crazy”

Suddenly things seem to be falling into place for me, I have found my ‘style’ of learning, which is a mixture of hands on practical stuff, making creations and putting into practice all that I have read (and thought I wasn’t taking in!!)

I love reading, I read all the time, or whenever I can, but I can become too introverted with it. However, I realize, once again, that I can’t take in new information until I have put my learning/reading into practice and start seeing my ‘learning’ in action. I forget this at times. Good job for me that learning about permaculture and doing the Diploma is all about Action Learning (learning from doing) or I would have or could have been sitting here reading for a long time, feeling like a fool for not knowing, or releasing my knowing. Also, when I am reading about something new I can become overwhelmed by the need to know- it- all-now, or feel insecure about my lack of knowledge. This is something I need to learn from and drop the ego about knowing it all.

When I started studying for the Diploma it was in part to help to keep me motivated to continue learning, to look deeper and to understand better what permaculture and nature was all about…as if I could…and reading seemed like the place to start… and maybe it was…

It turns out there is only so much we can learn from books and it seems more obvious to me now that the landscape really is the text book (I read that months back in David Holmgren’s book, but of course I never really took it in!!) Initially I got stuck on the ‘observing nature’ and my mind kept screaming out “what am I supposed to be observing? since I don’t know anything about nature!!”

This is not a helpful thought when you are studying a course that has nature at it’s core!!!

I realize I was trying to study nature from an intellectual viewpoint, and needing to feel ‘clever’ about it. It was all in my head, of course, and not in my ‘center’ and so not going down or being digested. I need to feel full in the belly to know that I have eaten a good meal, so I don’t know why I thought I could learn about nature by just looking at pictures in a book, or reading text that seemed to be a written in a foreign language to me, I needed to taste nature and to start to fill my belly with the some food for thought. I am glad to say I am still not full, I have several more courses to digest, lot’s of varied dishes to try out and hopefully finally get to have some cream with my dessert.

The irony here is that now that I am really learning I no longer feel that I am studying,!!! Or at least not studying an intellectual or academic subject. Nature has taught me, that although it is complex, and probably very scientific, that it’s all about the detail but also the simplicity, and if you relax enough that is what starts to emerge, from wherever you are.  I am no longer worried about my lack of ‘expertise’ I am just enjoying making the smallest intervention necessary and seeing that elegant solutions are (really) simple.

In short, I have dropped the whole “I am studying permaculture” and picked up little by little that  “I AM observing nature” and with that I don’t have to DO anything, I just have to BE, and this feels to me like I am learning in a much more profound way. Book reading aside, I really have found the perfect teacher for me, and the other great thing is that my ‘teacher’ moves at a slow and gentle pace (even when things happen overnight, like new leaves forming) which allows me to keep pace with the lessons.

So now I am just having such a fantastic time, observing, yes, that is right, I am observing nature!!  And so feel more confident about interacting and engaging with it. And nature seems very forgiving, although I keep asking for forgiveness when I move anything, cut anything, stand on anything or do anything that I haven’t done before, I feel it is only polite to do so, not that she (nature) is delicate but she just seems so perfect that I am in awe of her and feel I need to let her know when my blundering hands (although my hands are very small!!) come in and do something they are not used to doing. I imagine it is a bit like holding your a baby for the first few times, (or for a long time after the birth) that you see the beauty, perfection and fragility, you are learning how to handle all this beauty and yet are somewhat concerned that any intervention or wrong move on your part could upset the balance and cause damage or upset. And of course that is how it is, or should be, any intervention (or assistance we give)  should be made with care, sensitivity and an understanding of the beauty, fragility of the ‘baby’ and nature. But I also take my hat off to and respect the resilience, strength and complexity of nature (and children for that matter, they both have a lot to teach us), after all we can make mistakes or get it wrong at times, but if the intention has been that of giving love and respect then there is forgiveness even if it does take some time.

I realize my ‘designs’ and aspirations are small fry at this moment in terms of the bigger picture that is permaculture, but I pressume that those who are taking on larger, more complex, detailed and intricate designs have already gone through the ‘baby steps’ and gotten to the adolescent stage in offering their supporting role.

So starting where you are is an important lesson for me, none of us start off with the baby and are fully aware how we will deal with the unruly ‘teenager’, but I am sure if the best intentions and nurturing are put in place, we hopefully learn as we go and gain more intimate knowledge,  so we can work on solutions and  compromises if difficulty arises. Or we begin to realize that the teenager is actually parenting us!! Actually often the baby will be ‘parenting’ us…

I had felt a bit like I had to know which University was the best before I even got to the Kindergarden stage… now I see that I am actually just at the conception stage of this particular journey, and that is an exciting, wonderful and sometimes scary stage to be at..

PS I don’t have children so I make no claims to be an expert on that either.

Fragile, delicate, perfect, beautiful, balanced and very resilient to be remaining so intact given the Scottish weather!!!


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