08 October 2010

commentary: Life as a Gardener

As I gaze out upon my garden today, bathed in the glow of the afternoon sun, I'm having some thoughts about life and gardening. These aren't necessarily thoughts new to the world, and in fact, I've read on these topics I present below myself. But there's a difference between reading and experiencing, and so I'll share.

Gardening, as I see it, is a practice that teaches me, and I think other gardeners as well, so much about life. It holds many lessons. To be a gardener - a tender of the land - we must embrace all aspects of the cycle of life, from reproduction and birth to nurturing and death. And the lessons that we learn as gardeners can carry through to so many other parts of life. Arguably, I can even see that one can literally garden his own life, just as he gardens the land. He can prune here. Prune there. Fertilize this. Plant that. And then watch how these activities change his course and that of others. He can also see how others have done the same.

As gardeners, we bring forth life by planting seeds and transplanting seedlings. We nurture that life by watering and amending the soil. We must accept when life comes to us without our asking, as when plants find themselves sprouting in our soil without our help. We learn persistence - to try and try again until life takes a hold - and we also try to learn to accept when it won't. And, we must learn to accept when life is taken away.

In fact, striving to gain an acceptance of death could perhaps be one of the greatest lessons that a gardener can learn. Plants that we have loved fall back to the Earth to become again, just as all life.

We gardeners must also learn to enjoy the fleeting moments of beauty that such life brings to us. The one perfect bloom. The one afternoon on the one day of the one year that the one sun is shining just perfectly on the wispy seed heads of that most perfect grass. It might be the only time that moment ever occurs. All the stars only align for a moment. And so we must learn to enjoy the beauty of all lives around us.

For a garden is nothing but constant change, just as our own lives. That tree that you have so loved, enjoying its shade, its smell and its fruit. One day, it is gone. You must, must enjoy every possible moment of that tree while it exists on this planet.

And then, when the tree has gone, a gardener of life may know that the tree sinks down into the Earth, splits into millions of atoms and molecules and becomes again. The gardener also sees the vacant space that the tree leaves behind, and how its presence has influenced the growth and ecology around it. Though the tree may be gone, its influence on this planet is indelible.


Birdwoman said...

Wonderful post and very astute observations about gardening one's life as well as one's garden. You've given me a lot to think about as I go about my gardening tasks today.

Cat/The Whimsical Gardener said...

Yes, so many lessons to learn from the garden. One of the most miraculous to me is how often we get to observe those "perfect" moments; they are plentiful and various! My favorite part of gardening.

tina said...

your best post yet...

Roberta said...

Well said.

Merrily said...

Another of your posts that is wonderful, but makes me teary. You are a great observer and writer!