I’ve just arrived back in the chilly Midwest after three months in Hawaii. While there, I sowed a lot of seeds. I planted kale, chard, bok choy, black-eyed peas, broccoli, eggplant, peppers, and amaranth. I’m probably forgetting a few.
To thrive, these seedlings required my energy in various forms. First, they needed to be planted. Then they needed to be watered and weeded and fretted over. They needed to be hilled up. They needed heat. They needed fertilizer. They needed an XL dose of my best and fullest patience. (You may be realizing that these babies were some high-maintenance little punks).
Of course, these sprouted seeds will die if proper care is not taken. And if they don’t die, at the very least, neglect will cause them to shrivel. They will sit in their droopy-leaved discontent and wallow. But amazingly, when you go through the motions and put in all of the ingredients and think and consider and ponder and do it every day and waitwaitwait, one day you’ll walk out to the garden to take a peek after a time away and POW! There will be the fruits of your labor. Those sprouts will have become glorious! They will be craning their necks toward the shimmering sun. They will be stretching out their newly developed stems and branches as wide as they can reach. Like gems, there will be glittering flowers of pale pinks and yellows and creamy silky whites. And some of those flowers will have even turned into itty bitty versions of what will one day be an actual edible vegetable. And you’ll think to yourself, “Well holy shit! How in the world did this happen?” And then you’ll step back to think for a moment and the truth will come creeping into your consciousness, “Oh. I did this.”
That is, in a metaphor, what my nearly hundred days in Hawaii were. Not regarding the vegetables, (though everything is always a little bit about the vegetables) regarding me. It was about taking this confused and downtrodden and limping-along person that I had become out into the big world and sitting down with her. She and I had a lot to discuss. We planted our fears and insecurities and uncertainties and discontent and exhaustion. And then we tended to all of those things. And over time, just as in my garden, the uncanny happened. I grew and changed and blossomed. With hours spent listening to my own beating heart, practicing all the kindness I could conjure up, and daring to dig into and smooth out some murky and uneven terrain, the “seeds” that I planted turned into something else entirely.
Certainly this process is not finished yet. Just as I will each year go back out into the fields and till the earth and plant the seeds and care for them season after season, I will do the same with myself. It turns out that flourishing takes a lot of work! But it is certainly well worth the effort.