Tend Your Garden
A few weeks ago, a friend of mine posted this on Facebook:
I loved it. I still love it.
I did a little digging, and found the whole article here. Admittedly, I did not read the whole article (Seriously, it is looooooong. Who has that kind of time? People who write blogs, you say? Probably…but whatevs).
Anyway, since I didn’t read the whole article I don’t really know what it is about. But I have never let my own ignorance stop me from jumping to ill-formed conclusions, so why start now?
I decided that author’s message was this: Humans are kind of smart but also kind of dum-dums. Take care of earth; it will last longer and, therefore, so will you.
Lord knows we could all do a better job tending to this beautiful garden we call home. Buy less. Recycle more. Be more thoughtful. Be less me-minded. I will put my hand up and say that I need to do a better job at this. A much better job.
But as I thought about these words more, it occurred to me that this is not just an environmental metaphor, it is a life philosophy. A nugget of profound truth wrapped into 4 simple words: Tend your own garden.
This little truth bomb resonated with me so very much that, right after I read it, I literally got up off my duff and went outside and tended to my own garden.
So what was once this hot mess….
A couple days later Brado got on board and put up some much needed new house numbers too!
And what was once this abandoned disaster zone:
Became this lovely little haven:
While I was planting and cleaning and tossing and sweeping, I was also thinking. Thinking about why this little phrase, “tend your own garden”, feels so spot on to me right now.
It is hard to put it into words. It is a loaded phrase and probably means many different things to many different people. But since this is my blog, I am going tell you what it means to me. Hold on tight. Here we go…
When you tend your own garden, you take care of you. You nurture your dreams. You give life to new ideas and creations. You take time to bask in the sunshine. You plant roots. You provide your soul with the nutrients it needs to survive. Maybe this nutrients comes in the form of friendships, maybe exercise, maybe wine. Probably, all of the above. But this “tending” looks very different for different people.
Plant life, too, varies in its need for sunlight and water.
When you tend your own garden, you do not have time (nor the desire) to care about others’ gardens. You have seeds to plant. Weeds to pull (so.many.weeds.to.pull.). Tomatoes to pluck. You are busy. A good kind of busy, but busy nonetheless. You simply cannot be overly concerned with the upkeep of others’ gardens.
It would be easy to peer over your neighbor’s fence and make some quick judgements about what they did or did not plant. Mutter things under your breathe like, “Did you see those rose bushes she planted. Unsightly! I would never”.
But, you don’t do it. You don’t do it for three reasons:
1. It is not your garden.
2. You know, having tended your own garden, just how difficult it is to get things to grow. You understand the amount of time and energy that goes into cultivating a beautiful garden. Any growth (weeds excluded) is something to be proud of. Again, you intimately understand this, because you are actively tending to your own. So while you might not like rose bushes, you appreciate them in a way that only another gardener can understand.
3. You have better shit to do…like…tending to your own garden.
At first glance it might seem inherently selfish to tend your own garden. But when you tend your own garden, that doesn’t mean you have to ignore others’. In fact, I think you probably become more aware of them. But not of their flaws or their criticisms, rather of their needs and their beauty. You share tips to help them grow; find ways to make them bloom. And in exchange, they help you.
When you tend your own garden you learn to celebrate the little things. Tiny, but consistent, efforts enable beautiful things to take hold and grow. The first signs of life. The newest bud. The sun-ripened vegetable. All these mini-victories are worthy of celebration. They are the little moments that remind you to keep going. And, yes, sometimes you fail. But often times you succeed. Always you learn.
And over time, with your constant care and attention, you find that your garden sustains you. The process and product leaves you full. An equally important by-product of your efforts is that your garden has become a source of inspiration for others. A reminder for them to tend to theirs. For anyone who has walked by a beautiful garden and has witnessed its bounty, cannot simply ignore it. It leaves a lasting impression. A trace of happiness. Something to aspire to.
You want to know what I think? I think the world has enough critics, skeptics, cynics and celebrities. We need more down-home, back-to-basics, humble, good, old-fashioned gardeners.
That is why I am making it my goal to take up gardening. Soul gardening…if you will.
I want to be better. I want to spend more time doing and less time thinking. I want to surround myself with inspiring people, books and thoughts. I want to worry less, but care more, about others. I want to silence that negative monologue in my head that seems to play on loop. I want to get healthy once and for all. I want to live with intention. I want to face my fear of failure and challenge myself to try anyways. I want to laugh harder and longer and more frequently. I want to be a better mom, wife, friend and daughter. I want to look inwards and project light outwards.
How am I going to achieve all these lofty goals?
Honestly, I have not a clue. But I am in the process of carving out a plan. And you know I will (over)share that plan right here if you care to follow along.
But seriously…just imagine how beautiful the world would be if we all minded our own damn business and tended to our own gardens. And, of course, plucked a weed or two for our neighbors when they were in need.