This morning I was thinking about what I wanted to write about next, and the idea of patience kept swirling around in my mind. Then I went to lunch at Royal T (an amazing art gallery/café) and was seated next to this piece by Sam Durant:
So here goes on patience…
I have none.
Just ask my husband. I want it all TODAY. I am the least patient person I know. I live my entire life in one day. That’s not an exaggeration. And I actually don’t think there is anything wrong with that. I kind of like that about myself.
However, there is much to be learned – and even enjoyed – in the pursuit of patience (at least that’s what they tell me).
This is why the garden and I are such good friends: because the soil needs to cultivate plants and love, and I need to cultivate patience. We are a good match.
I think of my front yard. When I moved in eight years ago, it was nothing but 1000 square feet of sod. I took every last blade of grass out (plus three inches of soil) and slowly, over time, have created a little mini-tapestry of flowers, shrubs, fruit trees, aloes, agaves, roses, lavender and sage.
This did not happen overnight. Not by a long shot. After taking out all the grass (a huge project on its own), the small hillside looked totally naked. Then I set about choosing the right plants. The pick axing of the soil and shopping for plants is easy for me. It’s the patience to see my vision come to fruition that in the past has eluded me.
But guess what…in a garden, there is no other option.
I cannot plant a Meyer lemon tree and insist that the next day it be bursting with fruit. I cannot plant a bare root rose and expect that next week I’ll have a fragrant centerpiece on my table. I cannot plant a baby oak tree and expect that next year I’ll be sleeping under its immense branches. Yes, these things are coming (they are never not coming!). But to know them in my heart before I get to experience them in real life is no less real or pleasurable, it’s just a different way of knowing that kind of beauty.
These are not concepts I’m reading about in a book. It’s not an article on the web. It’s not a $200 therapy session.
It’s Real Life happening right before my eyes. This is what’s true. It’s not conceptual. Just look outside in your front or back yard.
And what’s my alternative? I want the fruit. I want the flowers. I want the shade of an oak. Who am I to demand that they hurry up? How presumptuous. Why do I think I know better or have more rights that Mother Nature herself!
Thankfully, She is always a gentle teacher. Because She knows I want the immense gifts she has to offer, but I have to do it on her time table. And guess what? I’m learning to enjoy the space in between. In between what I want and when I get it. Watching spring’s first buds. Clearing out the old dead leaves. Even hacking back the roses to mere sticks each winter is less painful for me. It’s the journey, not the destination, or so they say. (ps – you know there is no destination, only the journey, right? Just checking).
The garden teaches me that all of this is ultimately for the best. All Of It. The entire cycle. The immense growth and beauty, and the time to go into the darkness, and everything in between. It’s all ok, because it’s all necessary.
One of my favorite quotes from Apocalypse Now is: “Don’t get out of the boat unless you’re going all the way.”
Mother Nature goes all the way every day. She deals with everything, all the time. In the garden there can be too much rain, or too little rain, bug infestations, critters who steal the fruits, humans who steal the flowers. And every day the garden gives its best, under the best or worst conditions.
That’s my intention, too. To offer and receive Life to the fullest regardless of the challenges or limits put on me. Once you make peace with the fact that challenges are natural, it lets you inhabit what you have, not what you don’t have. You cannot stop the flow of the water – it will always find a way – it’s up to us how difficult we want to make it.
And as I sit here and ponder all of this, the garden just does its thing, without question or worry. Which is a reminder for me to do the same, cultivating patience along the way, and enjoying the fruits that come from it, today, tomorrow, twenty years from now or even ‘just’ in my heart.