Someone (Karen?) was recently watching me water my plants, and asked how often I did it. I think I said every third day or so, and she said something about how nurturing I was... (Karen, please feel free to correct my recollection if I'm getting any of this wrong.) And I was thinking about that just now, about how I have a small, instinctive reaction against being called "nurturing". It sounds so sappy, so meek and womanly. It's not an exciting thing to be. Somewhere in my head I think I harbor an image of the (male) artist, who obsessively throws himself into his work, ignoring the world, passionately devoted to one amazing project. There's a part of me that believes that that's the way you create brilliance, beauty. It's not the way I usually work, but it's been an ideal to strive for.
But I started thinking about watering and pruning my plants, and what that actually means. A few minutes of work, every few days, that make the plants grow bigger and stronger and healthier. If I can do similar things for Kevin (stopping by the grocery store on the way home from the gym to pick up some avocados and fresh mozzarella, so he has a yummy snack when he gets home from the airport tonight) or for my friends, or for the magazine (or for a novel?) -- if I can expend small amounts of energy, periodically, to help them grow bigger, better, stronger, well, that's sort of exciting. You can get a big result from very little effort, if you do it consistently, periodically. Like going to the gym (or flossing, according to my dentist).
We tend to notice big results. The all-out effort, the sleepless nights and ferocious concentration, the splashy product. But the more I think about it, the more impressed I am by the quality results that a little nurturing can produce. (My staff putting out the magazine, beautifully, week after week after week.) Forget the feminine, gender-stuff -- everyone should be a nurturer! If we all did more nurturing, of ourselves, of the people around us, how much happier and healthier would we all be? And then we might have the energy, the stamina, the resources to throw into one of those splashy, all-consuming projects...
Even better, if you can fit it in as a peaceful moment of attention and care, while waiting for your tea to steep. The tea should be nice and strong now.