The act of life

 “Why do we make gardens? The act seems so extravagant, so illogical. Don’t we have enough hard work in our lives already? Are we looking for more?

Why on earth do we bother?

It takes a kind of courage. You have to learn to cherish. You have to dare, to take the risk, to bother, to care.

To make a garden, you have to be able to love and to see yourself as capable of nurturing.

It takes patience, too. If the garden is to thrive you must commit yourself to it for years, for the creation of a garden takes place over time. Like a child, a garden has needs that have to be met, whether we feel like it or not, day after day.
You have to have confidence. You have to take charge and be responsible. You have to act upon the garden.

And you have to let it act upon you. Because it will act upon you. And will knit you together with the rest of the world. It will not let you stand apart.
The challenge is hard, but it is irresistible. To get dirty, to get involved. To act and be acted upon. That is life. If we stop accepting that challenge, we stop living.”

~Simone Martel, Expectant Gardener ~

Life is never simple and situations are not always yes or no. It is always more complex and layered. Many times, there is a maybe or it depends to consider. Even once all the facts are laid out, it is still rarely a black or white answer or solution. Think of nearly any situation and topic in life, and you will find shades of gray.

Whether the issue is politics, health or gardening, you will find a variety of opinions and view points. With each person believing their view point is in the right, I am amazed that we can make progress. At times, we spend so much time fighting and arguing, that I think we waste time. We are so focused on being right or pointing fingers, that we miss the opportunities to really address the problems. It’s like we can only see black or white, and ignore the all shades of gray.

As I was deciding what to write to accompany my garden photos, I found the above Simone Martel quote on gardening. Her last few lines about life and gardening caught my attention.

“…And you have to let it act upon you. Because it will act upon you. And will knit you together with the rest of the world. It will not let you stand apart. The challenge is hard, but it is irresistible. To get dirty, to get involved. To act and be acted upon. That is life. If we stop accepting that challenge, we stop living.”

It made me think about all the craziness in the world today. It made me think about my own garden. It made me realize, life includes many shades of gray.

Let me explain.

Whenever there is a problem, whatever it may be, it is like a weed in the garden. We have to pluck it out. We have to destroy it. We have to abolish it. We do that and think, problem solved. Then, the weed comes back. And sometimes, with even more force in numbers.

We get frustrated. We want to burn the whole dang garden down and rip out all the plants. We want to start from scratch all over or just give up. This is the world acting upon us. It is life. Sometimes it is good. Other times it is bad, really bad.

Regardless, we cannot stop though. For when we do, like Martel said, we stop living. Life will never be perfect. (I dream and wish it could be though.) No matter what, there will always be weeds. There will always be that one jerk (ore more). There will always be something going wrong.

That doesn’t me we quit gardening/living, and hide from the world’s problems. Our job as humans, is to figure out how to react. How can we make the situation better? How can we help? How do we solve the problems, at least in our part of the world. Those answers are never easy though. And like I said earlier, they are rarely black or white. It is in those shades of gray where we find answers though. It is in those shades of gray where we find compromise.

When we get down on the ground with our trowels, we may discover why and where the weeds come from. If we pluck out the weed and not the root or the conditions causing the weeds to grow, the weeds will come back. Over and over, we will fight the same weeds. Only when we work on the conditions, will we stop the problems.

And like a garden, only when we give it attention, time, love and nutrients, will our gardens grow.

The problem is…not all of know how to garden (or want to learn), especially when it includes shades of gray.


For Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge ~ Black & White




I Think I Can, I Think I Can…

“In order to succeed, we must first believe that we can.” –Nikos Kazantzakis

As a young girl, I was not confident at all. I was rather insecure actually, probably not much different than other girls though. We think we are not as pretty, thin or smart as the popular girls. We believe we couldn’t possibly do this or that. So we stay sheltered and safe and don’t try new things. In that reluctance, we don’t find ourselves nor true joy.

Here is the thing with that. Those insecurities carry over into your adulthood if you fail to conquer them when your young. Time generally does not make you more beautiful or fit (without effort). So you age, and if you are not actively engaged in your dreams and goals, you coast through life. You become reactionary and a victim to circumstances. If some of those circumstances were painful, you risk becoming bitter and even more afraid to try.

This is a vicious cycle because the more you don’t believe in yourself, the more you don’t try. And the more you avoid trying, the further away you stay from your true purpose in life.

I know this life. I lived this life. For years, I coasted through life as a zombie, a somewhat successful zombie though. I had a job, kids, a marriage – all the blocks were checked for the great American dream. But I was losing myself. I had no confidence, and I would never have fought for my dreams, let alone even risk trying them.

Fortunately though, I am evolving in my age, like a fine wine. Finally I am realizing, that if I want things to happen, I need to work at them. And there is really no darn good reason why I cannot succeed. Of course, I have had to refit my dreams to adult reality.

The childhood dream of being a gymnast is not really realistic in your 40s. But I can tweak that dream into my goals of fitness. I do yoga, pilates and piyo. I may not be doing back flips, but I can still do a fancy cartwheel or roundoff. And when I am really feeling good, I can even throw in a lovely back bend or the splits. I will not be getting a phone call from the Olympic Gymnastic team any time too soon mind you, but my flexibility allows me versatility in obstacle course races and protects me from injury. I am happy with those benefits!

The childhood dream of writing books was put on hold for so many years, it became a fantasy. It was right up there winning the lottery. But now, I am at least writing and feeling more confident as I test my abilities at short stories, poems and commentary. I even have an outline for a book. I am working as an editor in my civilian job and learning tiny details I never considered. All of these steps are building upon each other and at least heading into the direction of my writing dream. So no longer is my writing dream comparable to a lottery win…it is more like playing skeeball. I’ll keep trying and working on winning, and get some prize tickets along the way. And if I work hard enough, all those tickets might turn into a huge wonderful prize. If not? I can still enjoy the game and little prizes along the way, right?

I suppose my biggest achievement was learning to believe in myself. Without that, no amount of talent can take me anywhere. On the flip side, I have to have the wisdom to gauge my talent and abilities honestly. Sure, if I work really hard, I could publish a book, some poems and some short stories eventually. However, no matter how hard I work now, you will never see my gymnastic floor routine representing the United States. Well, not unless they open a middle-age-woman cartwheel only category. I don’t think many would tune in for that though. 🙂