Garden of Life

While I was busy weeding the garden this morning, I couldn’t help but think that our life journey can be likened to that of maintaining a garden. I only have my life to use as a perspective, so I’ll stick to my life to illustrate the similarities.

Imagine you move into a new home, with a huge garden, full of shrubs and trees, some rose bushes, a little rock garden and the odd set of herbs here and there, maybe even some fruit trees. At first you look at the garden and decide that there are some shrubs and bushes you would like to remove, some plants you would like to move around a bit and then some areas that you want to plant new flowers in. The garden doesn’t look bad, it’s just not the way you would like it. This garden is my life. I haven’t had a bad life, as a matter of fact if I reflect back on it there’s nothing that has happened to date that I can say it was the end of the world for me. Yes I have been through some really bad and hard patches, but taking a step back and looking at it now, I’ve had a good life. When I look at it though, there are things in my life that I’m not entirely content or happy with. Some things I no longer want as a part of my life, some things need to be changed, some things I have neglected and need some TLC, and there are some new things I’d like to try in my life.

I think we all reach points in our lives where we have complete overhauls, decision points where we decide to make some drastic changes, or we have a huge wake-up call or something that creates a new level of awareness for us. Although I am going through some drastic changes in my life right in this current moment, I don’t think this is the initiating wake-up call for me. I think for me the wake-up call was when I made an active decision to start reflecting more inwardly and becoming more present in my life. That decision was my decision to spend some more focused energy on getting my life garden clean and prettying it up.

For me I need to get the engines running first, so liken it to taking out some weeds here and there, reading up on when is the best time to plant certain plants, how to safely move plants around to ensure they survive, doing some planning of how the layout of the garden will look, and maybe buy some compost and soil. I took some steps to get back in touch with my emotions and being more aware of them, listening to them as the navigator of my life, and unbottling things that have been dormant for years. I did a couple of courses, a year long worth of courses, had many realisations and had many philosophical conversations.

But then you actually get going, hard labour… Start trimming back old branches, removing things you don’t like, moving plants around, lots of composting. It’s like a “garden” break down. What I only realise now, is all my training and little things I was busy doing and decisions I was busy making to “become whole again” was busy building up a dam just above my house of which the dam wall eventually snapped and came flooding through my garden. This was the large wake-up call, so I guess eventhough I feel thisnwasn’t the initiator, itnwas definitely the direction changer… I’m not taking away any of my responsibility in events that happened in my life the last couple of months…two pretty serious break ups in less than 6 months, needing to relook my performance at work, and a whole bunch of not so well thought through decisions. Floods aren’t all bad….they’re destructive by nature, but at the same time they make space for new things to start. My flood destroyed my marriage, a couple of friendships, and all my self-confidence. But I’ve been rebuilding piece by piece…

Right now I look at my garden, and it might not be the most beautiful one right now, but I’m seeing it shape again. Here’s the thing, weeding is a huge part of gardening. So is mowing the lawn. If you look at how much more time you spend on these two activities compared to planting new things, it probably takes up 80% of the time. And it’s hard work and not always the most fun part of gardening, but here’s what I realised this morning. If you can stop begrudging the weeding, and just accept it as one of those inevitable things in life that you have no control over, something else happens… You notice the little ladybird in between the blades of grass. You see an ant carrying something double its size with ease. You feel the sun baking on your skin, and I’m grateful for that because it means summer is on its way. You feel the breeze, hear it in the trees. You hear and see the birds flitting between the branches… Weeding now becomes soul time and wind down time for me. So is life…it is the little things that we need to spend more time on, the things that we usually dread the most. But if you do a little of it every day, it doesn’t have to become a flood. And if you can accept it as a part of your journey, you might just start noticing the beauty around all your weeds.

I’m the furthest person from perfect in this world. I have a very idealic sense of reality, and often my decisions are based on this and I get the surprise of my life. I can look at this and begrudge that I have this view of life or try and hide it from everyone. But what I noticed is that it is this same quality that makes me fun to be around, active and passionate about people and things, and it is this exact same quality that makes me get up when I’m covered in mud and feel like there is no way out. So sometimes it will cause weeds, and sometimes it will create beautiful flowers. But while I’m weeding, at least I also get to see and experience the flowers. As a matter of fact, I would push it as far as to say that if it wasn’t for the time I spend weeding, I wouldn’t experience true beauty. If you sit on the stoep looking out on the garden, you would never see the ladybird in the grass, or get close up to a flower to truly see the texture of its leaves, or even the smell.

So in a way I thank the weeds for being there. The beauty I have seen in the last couple of months are friends I never realised I had, and closer friendships. I have a second set of parents and a second brother who are a true blessing in my life, and my relationship with my mother has become fun again. I am getting to experience a happiness in me that is exciting and fun. Even in the newest set of weeds I created they indirectly created beauty – as I have found a haven out in the bush with the most beautiful energy, which would have never been known to me if life just carried on as it were before the flood.

So I say: Raise your glass to weeds!

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