Monday, August 29, 2016

Lessons from the garden

“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” — Marcel Proust

YOU MAY recall that Paul planted a birthday garden for me. A beautiful, loving gift from a beautiful, loving man. The garden has prospered and grown. 

Originally, however, we'd put some of the plants in the wrong place. We planted impatiens in an area that was too sunny and hot for them. After watching them struggle to hardly live, we moved them all, every last one, to a bed in the back of the yard that doesn't get as much sun, and there they've thrived.

We put in vincas and zinnias where the impatiens started out, and the vincas and zinnias loved the hot sun and laughed at dry days. The zinnias have become bushes and the vincas mounds of flowers. 

Paul and I had a rare day entirely free of obligation this past Sunday, and we spent it doing small, household nesting chores together, but mostly we puttered in the garden. Paul pulled weeds in a bed we've yet to resurrect, as I made my way through the vincas. 

One of the flower-tending tasks I perform as often as I can is removing spent blooms. It's especially consequential to pick dropped vinca blossoms because the tissue of the old blooms decomposes, desiccates and forms a thin but tenacious film over whatever is beneath — leaf, flower or bud.

This dead-petal coating proves particularly destructive to buds. If a spent bloom lands on one, it forms a shroud over the bud, effectively sealing it shut and preventing it from opening. When I pull off the remnant of the old bloom, sometimes the bud will expand and open right before my eyes. It's life-affirming to watch. Those that don't open immediately, will by morning.

As I watched one bud unfurl, I thought about how we're sometimes like shrouded buds. There can be people around us who keep us from opening up and blooming as nature intended. Acquaintance, supposed-friend or relative, whether they mean to or not, they bind us within ourselves, and we miss the opportunity to flourish.

Or maybe we're like the impatiens that were planted in the wrong place, somewhere we intrinsically aren't suited to grow . . . and we never will . . . until we're situated somewhere else offering favorable growing conditions. 

We often blame ourselves for it, telling ourselves that we 'shouldn't' let that person make us feel inadequate or incapable or less-than, or if we just 'try harder' we can somehow rearrange our DNA and be able to survive inhospitable surroundings.

But you know what I think? You and I should be what and how and who we were built to be, and in the absence of a gardener who will transplant us to where we belong or gently and carefully remove our shroud (how lucky Paul and I are that we've been able to do that for each other) — we have to do it for ourselves. 

Stop worrying about why someone always makes you feel bad. Stop analyzing what you're doing 'wrong' and exit yourself as much as you possibly can from ever being around them. And if you really look at your choices, you have way more opportunities to put them in the rear view mirror than you think you do. 

Stop turning yourself inside out to fit someone else and just be YOU — beautiful, blooming you.


  1. Oh my gosh! This is so powerful and beautiful and TRUE! Well done - I love your writing style - you chose just the right words to make the ideas flow and the message be clear. Well done. Empowering message. I'm saving this to read again later today.

  2. It was just as delightful the second time round. Quite poetic and insightful.