Tending Pleasures: A Writer Wednesday Post

May 22nd, 2013 | Posted by Irene in Essays

tending again

Joytender, photo and all text © Irene O’Garden, 2013

Note: Thanks one and all for letting me hang up my “Gone Reading” sign last week! Once you get your copy of Elizabeth Gilbert’s magnificent “The Signature Of All Things”  (October 1) I think you’ll want to do same. It’s a luscious, luscious book — a vivid and passionate world of remarkable characters. I found it immensely satisfying. I’ll later be posting reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.


To listen to this post, please click here: Tending Pleasures

I keep close track of the fruits of age. The joy of tending is one of the juiciest.  Some come early to this appreciation (parents especially)  but as a rhapsodist of creativity I came late. For years it escaped my notice that tending is actually the foundation of creation.

The early will-based verbs of youth–exploring, creating, acquiring, establishing—can harden into nouns in middle age: expansion, mastery, collection, accumulation. In age, these pale next to the nearly parasympathetic verbs of tending and releasing.

In age, we learn to tend what we have and who we are, and to release that which we cannot tend wholeheartedly.

We recognize the old shapeshifter Need will rise again and again, but that her shapeshifting sister Tend is always at the ready: to oil the thirsty wood, to weed the bed, to soak the ragged cuticles.  To read to the child, to help with the move, to work the phones, to clear the rubble.

Need and Tend, Need and Tend, great systole and diastole of our human heart, unified playing field of life in all her forms, colossal pump of love.

To learn to love in every circumstance is maybe why we came. To learn that love itself needs tending and tending is love itself.



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  • Cecilia DeWolf

    Irene, you make me weep. Just perfectly beautiful!

    • IreneOGarden

      You have one of the tenderer hearts I know, my dear–thank you–

  • Cynthia

    A beautiful image and beautiful thoughts, Irene. Tending – it made me think of the act I read of today of Helen Mirren welcoming a young boy with Down Syndrome who has cancer to her performance as Queen Elizabeth and backstage for tea because it was the boy’s wish to meet the real Queen who had demurred, so Mirren stepped in and played her part. An act of kindness. And we all know she played it well. Tending.

    • IreneOGarden

      What a beautiful story–thanks for sharing it, Cynthia–

  • Scott

    I intend to remember that what I need is what I am tending – and maybe tend it a little better.

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