Lying on grass can be an exercise in relaxation, blissing out, drifting off. But it can also be a sensory adventure. If your head is “on,” in stillness, the not-still amplifies. And that’s not a bad thing.
Lying here now, for example, I’m aware of each blade, the greens, the browns, pale whites and yellows, bending down and pushing up. The sound of pumping blood in my head pulses with a shushing rhythm like tiny footsteps crunching. There is a vertiginous feeling, as if a cutout of this body-on-turf is dropping slowly to caverns below, grubs and earthworms burrowing past.
With that, imagination gallops forward, wondering, “Is this what Persephone saw, swooping down through earth in Hades’ chariot? Did she crush the narcissus she’d plucked in her fist, hanging on to something bright throughout that wild ride?” I’d like to think so.
Tiny movements tickle. Billbugs and aphids? Chinch bugs and leafhoppers? Or maybe the wood-wide-web has sent out an alarm: “Large lifeform flattening nearly six feet of surface. Hold tight!” And roots tingling, the blades have sharpened with the alert, collectively bracing against my back. Even more thrilling: If grasses are the most abundant plant on earth, and talk to each other through the mycorrhizal fungi network that connects them, the sound of grass-speak must be omnipresent, overwhelming. Imagine those conversations! Can I hear them? The hair on my body perks as I listen—my skin’s own grass, in sync with the blades below.
A bee bumbles past. There is a breeze through the garden. Breathing deeply through my nose, the scent of lilac and rosemary penetrate. And the taller grasses whisper, “it’s okay.”
It is okay.
Heightened awareness, I mean. Being in the moment is choosing awareness. Not all the time of course, but when you like. And if that’s your chosen state of being, vacation doesn’t have to be an escape from focus but can be a space in time (no matter how short) offering the freedom to choose what you’re focusing on. With this intent, vacations are rich journeys, even if only five minutes long.
As a self-employed creative, working pretty much all the time, that’s a boon. People often ask, “Where do you get your inspiration? Your ideas?”
The answer is questions. Lying on this bit of lawn, a zillion questions bloom. How many colors are in this patch of grass? How deep do the grass roots grow? Do they really connect to other plants and communicate? What are they saying? What does a chinch bug look like? Does a leafhopper have wings? Are there similarities between the hair on my skin and the grass on the earth? What words exist to describe the scent of grass? How many poems have been written about grasses? Or songs? Or stories? What will they tell me? And if I make a photograph or create a painting of this grass, what will it feel like or have to say about all of this, in expressions that move beyond words?
Infinite, isn’t it?
And that’s just drawing from sensory reactions to the real. The mind’s eye goes beyond that. During our waking moments, how much of what we see is what is physically in front of our eyeballs, and how much is drawn from our brain’s bank of stored imagery? I often wonder if a group of neuroscientists are busily at work somewhere, studying the mind’s eye, to figure this out.
Whatever the answer, in five minutes of curiosity on the lawn, worlds opened to the existing and the not-yet-explored. Refreshing. Exciting. Invigorating. It’s a vacation mindset I carry with me. I’m pretty sure you can, too.