I’d almost forgotten how therapeutic working outside was, especially in my garden. This morning, we got reacquainted.
I was out there pulling weeds, untangling sugar snap peas, and planting some more vegetable seeds. It wasn’t long before I began to imagine what I was doing illustrated some of the challenges that I’ve faced in my life. It was so bizarre but then I remembered how in the past I had been so comforted by things in the natural world whenever I took the time to interact with certain of its elements.
The weeds or oxalis in particular, had pretty heavily infested several beds and crowded the sugar snap peas I was working on badly. Most of the young pea plants had sent out their tendrils seeking sunlight and become entangled in the thick stands of tall oxalis. Instead of growing upward toward the fence the peas had been planted along, they appeared hopelessly lost in a maze of weeds. If the peas weren’t separated from the oxalis and trained to trail up the lattice work of the fence they would die. What was I to do?
Well, I sat there and observed how the two plants were entwined and fallen over together onto the ground. They had to be separated but it couldn’t be done with the small claw rake I had. Sizing up the task at hand, I realized that my gloves would equally hindered the careful touch that was needed for the job ahead. So I set the gloves and claw aside and slowly and meticulously began to selectively remove individual pea plants from the mass of oxalis. Once I had some plants separated from it, I directed them to the lattice work openings and set their tender tendrils in places where they might re-attach and pull the pea plant in that new direction. It took a lot of time and patience but I managed to re-direct all of them and then next turned my attention to the oxalis.
To reduce the impact on the pesky plant, I had to dig down carefully, so as not to damage the fragile roots of the pea plants, and pull out the root ball of patches of the oxalis. This took even more time and directed effort but in time I had the entire fence line of sweet peas freed. That’s when I started equating what I was doing with some other real world situations I was dealing with.
The oxalis was a type of the kinds of weeds that can present themselves to us in some of our real-life situations. We may be engaged in a creative enterprise that seems full of promise and energy, like the quick and vibrant growth of the sweet peas. Along the way, weeds like the oxalis make their way into what we are doing and we’re faced with situations where we have to make decisions that will affect the outcome of what we are attempting to grow. We can meet the challenge of our individual ‘oxalis’ and rip it out. This may in turn destroy the fragile roots of what we are trying to develop and we lose the harvest of what we sowed.
We can also take the more time-consuming route of painstakingly picking away at our ‘oxalis’ and possibly in the process learn something more about what may have caused the unexpected challenge we encountered. I know in my own personal case, the garden had been neglected like how I might have overlooked the particular feelings and perspectives of others. As a result, I found myself faced with unexpected obstacles that turned out in some cases to be simply instances of miss-communication and misconceptions. Like when I hadn’t spent enough time in the garden, some of my own affiliations had been overlooked and their respective needs neglected. In time, they developed into feelings of hurt and resistance that barred my progress, not too unlike the oxalis entangling the pea plants’ growth.
Once I took time to address the matter the pea plants found an opportunity to continue their growth. When I addressed some of the unnoticed personal perspectives that impacted my own situation I found a true realization and understood better what I was facing. Of course, people are not plants but they do have predictive behaviors that can help you assess what you’re up against. In the instance of the garden, I knew that if I did nothing to try and change what was affecting the pea plants they would most assuredly die or amount to nothing. In my own situation, I found I could address the factors playing out against me and attempt to correct some of them but the ultimate outcome was not dependent upon what I did. Sometimes there are factors and forces beyond our control. Like a dry spell or swarm of pests, the garden peas might become beset with overwhelming forces that prevent their flourishing. I had realize and be resolved to the fact that some individuals or situations might not be correctable or workable in what I was dealing with. In such cases, I had to be prepared to adapt. Again the garden provided some direction.
A seed when it grows first has to pretty much die to germinate. It sometimes goes through a long period of waiting until conditions are just right for growth. Then it springs into life. It reaches out to sunlight that gives it energy and draws from its surroundings for nourishment. How much different are we in our own lives in this life? Each of us is either natured or nurtured, perhaps a combination of both but if we succeed it is because we have found a way to adapt and live on. No matter what the circumstances there is always a way. We can always find solace in the natural world around us. That’s what I learned from the peas in my garden.