Planting a field or a garden takes immense optimism, vision, patience and hard work…in a word, faith.
It requires the ability to envision all that is possible and a willingness to accept whatever comes. There is immense bravery in this. When you are in the beginning stages – the planning or planting phase – it feels easy perhaps to feel optimistic, excited…in control. You are creating something, and that feels powerful.
But what you are creating for yourself is never the outcome, it’s the experience. This can be a hard thing to accept, especially when there is pain or confusion involved. When there is discomfort, the tendency is to move away or to think we are in the wrong space. But what if that pain is there to teach us something, to help us grow, to move in a new direction, or look at something a new way? This is expansion, and it doesn’t just happen in the pretty parts – in fact, rarely does it happen in the pretty parts.
We think we are moving in the direction of our lives looking a certain way on the outside (house/relationships/money), but really, the physical space we inhabit/create/modify is simply the home for our soul. This can be a hard thing to accept, understand or embody.
We think that a relationship looking a certain way, or a house looking a certain way or a career or bank account looking a certain way means we’ve ‘reached our goal’. Goals are a big deal to people. But checking off a list of goals is nothing compared to the expansion, freedom and tear-your-heart-open beauty that can be cultivated and experienced within when you open to an experience fully.
When you open to something fully, it can look completely different than you expected. But if you are set on a checklist (or expectation) of goals, you’ll miss it entirely.
In the field or in the garden, after you’ve planted, what about when too much rain comes and floods your seeds? Or when too little rain comes and kills your first sprouts? Those are the times when you have to dig deep and have faith, and most importantly, to let go of the ‘planned’ outcome, ie the goal.
Really, our job here on earth is to feverishly create without the need for the outcome to look a certain way.
But this can be the hardest thing – ever – that we can do.
Because we thrive on expectations and we put all our beliefs in cause and effect. We tell ourselves that if we do ‘this,’ then ‘that’ will happen. We like to feel in control. Control is comfortable.
But gardeners and farmers know that there is no control out on the land. There are a million different things that can get in the way of a fruitful harvest: drought, floods, insects, animals, neglect or simply the fact that some plants end up producing less than others.
This question no longer serves me. It’s what is. And it takes a lot of internal work to get to the place where you can accept whatever happens and be ok with that. I’m still in the ‘working on it’ phase. It means letting go of stories, blame and expectations and even earthly goals. These things are usually the basis of most experiences and relationships, so letting go of them means opening to a new level of experiencing yourself – and others.
We want a house full of cut roses, but what if we are afraid of the bees that hover while growing the blooms? Do we say no to blooms that fill us with beauty and joy? The blooms that are our muse for writing, painting, loving? Or can we find a way to make peace with the bees? To learn from them? To understand who they are and what they need without judgment? There is no right or wrong answer. The hardest part can be deciding for yourself. A million different people will do it a million different ways. There is bravery in standing alone and deciding for yourself how you will do it.
Similarly, we want an abundant harvest on our table, but what if there is struggle during the growing process? Do we abandon the entire thing? Do we tell ourselves we were foolish to dream that big? It’s easy to be optimistic during the planning phase and grateful during the feast, but those things are dependent on a willingness to be open and take risks during each part of the process. A willingness to experience pain and an acceptance that challenges are all part of the cycle. Not that we need to invite in pain in an unhealthy way, but expecting life to be pain free is only setting us up for disaster.
Life is simultaneously permanent (soul) and temporal (body/personality). The cycle (or what is inside of it – the divine) is forever, but the reality is that these bodies and these personalities are only ours for this go around. And they are malleable – but we forget that. We hold on so tight.
It can be hard to stay completely open. For me, that’s the faith part. It’s the letting go. It’s the knowing that there is some force greater than ourselves guiding us, helping us grow, even when we think it’s the field or garden outside of us that we are growing.
There is no separation, it’s one and the same. And growth can be hard. Splitting the seed open, reaching for the sun, opening to receive the rain, getting holes in your leaves from a worm…then coming into your fullness.
If you jump out of the fire (or the field) in the middle of all of this, you’ll never know what might be. Again, there is bravery here. Sometimes, in the middle of a shit storm, it’s easy to walk away from the entire garden or farm and think, “Screw all this, I’ll just move to an apartment and have a potted geranium on my window sill, or better yet, I’ll just hang a painting of a garden on my wall – that’s much safer.”
There is nothing wrong with this choice, unless, of course, you know in your soul that it’s your destiny, at least for today, to be out in the field, the garden, at one with nature, holding strong – no matter what – to your vision of all that possible, of what you know is waiting for you on the other side…being willing to ride the bumps as they come…