Sow Good Seeds: Pattern Disruption

Deborah Haak-Frost|Watershed Voice

Sow Good Seeds

Sow Good Seeds is a column devoted to environmental issues, gardening, cooking, and anything else connected to the natural world that has so graciously hosted us on this earth. It is the author’s hope that it will encourage you to see the world around you in a different way, to make incremental changes in your daily living, and to treat our planetary home such that we honor the generations of life that will follow.

I meet up with friends on Monday nights. I set the coffeemaker before I go to bed. I follow my route to work by car from street to highway to road to gravel. 

Of course, that was then. Patterns are different right now. 

I can’t go to the bar on Monday nights, or any night. I have time to make my coffee in the morning. I don’t drive to work every day. I can’t do lots of other things like sit down at my favorite restaurant when making dinner feels like one task too many. And my life isn’t nearly as affected as millions of people who are struggling to deal with the disruption of many of their daily rhythms.

Disrupting a pattern, as abruptly as this virus has disrupted our society’s patterns, shocks the system. Shockwaves are reverberating through all sectors. 

A snowfall in April with freezing temperatures disrupts the seasonal cycle of an orchard, potentially halting the growth of the buds on the trees and affecting the yield for the summer. A sudden change in an organization’s leadership can throw off balance and disrupt relationships within the team. A hospitalization can derail a family’s flow of life.

And that’s hard. 

Some patterns aren’t meant to be disrupted: I miss seeing my friends. I want local businesses to survive. I like my job and my commute. 

This situation is making those patterns visible to me. I’m seeing that those patterns make up important aspects of my life, they serve me well, and I look forward to the day that they can resume in some form. 

I’m recognizing other patterns, though, that don’t serve me well. Regularly looking to restaurants and fast food for meals doesn’t do much good for my health; disrupting that pattern of behavior (prompted by the closure of food establishments) will encourage me to be more creative in the kitchen and spend more time thinking about the food I put in my body. Depending solely on my car for transportation doesn’t serve the planet; reimagining how I get around (afforded by extra time on my hands), whether on foot, on bike, or eventually carpooling or public transport, will encourage me to think more broadly about my impact on the environment. 

These examples are, of course, not new discoveries, but I see them in a different light now that our situation has pulled me out of the regular rhythms of life. Seeing these patterns for what they are is the first step to creating new ones. It makes me consider: what other patterns have I been following just because the cost of breaking out of them feels higher than a new pattern is worth? What changes can I make to break out of those cycles, starting small?

It makes me look beyond my own life to wonder what patterns we as a society are following that no longer serve us. What changes can we make?

Deborah Haak-Frost is grateful for every ray of sunshine that reaches her skin. She is the Caretaker for Community Engagement at GilChrist Retreat Center in Three Rivers. 

Any views or opinions expressed in “Sow Good Seeds” are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Watershed Voice staff or its board of directors.