By Carol Traulsen
Once we’ve prepared the soil and planted the seeds, we water the garden and wait for things to grow. It would be nice if things always went smoothly and when the prescribed number of days is up all we had to do was harvest. But things are rarely that simple, in life or in gardening. There are always challenges and there are always things that are beyond our control.
I am excited when the first tiny leaves break the surface. This means the roots have taken hold, the possibility of plants growing and yielding something that I can cook and eat is almost thrilling. The radishes are usually up first and there really isn’t much challenge in growing them. They are the first to sprout, the first to develop leaves and the first to produce anything edible. And while it’s exciting, it’s almost expected. It’s pretty hard to kill a radish. So my attention is elsewhere. There are other questions to be answered. I want to know when the peas and beans will bloom, and if the birds will pull up the sunflower sprouts like they did last year. Why does my zucchini plant have fungus and what happened to the brussel sprouts? Notice anything about all these questions? They are pretty much out of my control.
And to not be in control is anxiety producing. Most of the time personal growth comes from situations that we can’t control. Those are the hardest lessons. In gardening we can’t control when the growth happens we just know that it should. We shoo away the birds and try to make sure the garden pests don’t devour the first tender young leaves. We’re afraid if that happens all growth and progress will be halted and our fragile young seedlings will die. There will be no crop, no fruit, no yield. So too in life we are on guard, anxious to protect our tender hearts, souls, psyches from those things that might damage us and do us harm. We steel ourselves from the hurt and challenges believing that we are keeping ourselves safe and preventing set backs. The most growth often comes from the most adversity.
If we are open we reap experience, knowledge, grace, and fortitude from life’s challenges. The pests, the storms, the droughts and infestations test our will to grow and fuel our strength and stamina. When we look again, the garden is blooming, thriving, lush and green. The plants are strong, and resilient. Somehow when we accepted our role as gardener and realized only so much was in our control, we produced a more bountiful harvest!
Standing over the plants demanding they grow only makes you look foolish. As a gardener, you learn that the plants will do what they are supposed to in their own time and you can’t hurry them along. So you provide a nurturing environment in the hopes that the plants will become healthy and the crop will be plentiful. You learn to plant more seeds in the hopes that the birds and bugs will get their fill and you will still have some too. You give attention to the plants that need it and leave the ones that are thriving alone.
When it’s time to harvest you gather all the fruit, wash it, prepare it and feast on your accomplishments. It all seems pretty easy and basic. Every gardener I know will tell you it’s not. It takes years to figure out what will grow in your soil (soul). Each gardener has special methods for pruning new growth to produce more fruit and for keeping pests and infestations away (read toxic people, stress and toxic situations here). Some use organic means, some prefer chemicals. Whether it’s yoga, herbal tea, alcohol, or drugs, we all have our way of dealing with stress. If we use too much in the way toxins to deal with stress nothing will grow, the garden will be barren.
In order to thrive and grow we must ensure our environment is nurturing, challenging and positive. There must also be adversity. We often learn more from a struggle than we do when things come easy. There will be times when we experience things beyond our control. We will weather rainstorms, snow and blazing hot sun. And if are lucky we will bear fruit in the form of wisdom, self-knowledge and a life beyond our imagining. That’s what you call a bountiful yield.