We humans are a controlling bunch. It's what has led to our success. We control our surrounding environment with shelter, with air conditioner, with fire and heat. We control our health with antibiotics and soaps and vaccines. We control our movements with roads. We control our food by cooking it, removing from it harmful things. We control everything. Or at least we try.
Even at work and in our family lives, we seek total control. We want to control our kids experiences, habits and personalities. We want to control our work, our employees. Our present, our past, our future.
Gardening can teach you otherwise if you open up and let it in.
There's a giant "gardening" culture, of course, that has grown around controlling nature. Mowing it. Trimming it. Fertilizing it. Spraying it with Roundup.
And sometimes I fall into that trap.
I love the Juddian boxes and straight lines of modern control as much as the next person, but really - REALLY - it's just a temporary constraint placed around a chaotic thing (nature) to make us feel like we control it. Like we own it somehow.
It's when I completely open up to the chaos of the natural world that I truly see what surrounds me.
Nature is not perfect. It's not controllable. Ask the hurricane victims. Ask victims of tornadoes and fires.
Have you ever been completely floored by a storm? You feel vulnerable. It's chaotic, and it's a big way that nature remind us that our piddly little controls are just that.
But nature can do so in subtler ways too. Look for the hackberries coming up everywhere. The ragweed taking over the creek. The beggar's lice moving in. The shrub growing out of control in the corner. The ornamental tree that isn't growing the perfect way you hoped it would.
The past few days, I've been meaning to get out and trim some Gregg's mistflower that is consuming a little bluestem and sideoats grama that I planted. I really want the grasses to succeed, so the Gregg's has seemed to me like an unwelcome bully. Even though I put it there in the first place.
Today, I was going to come home and trim it back. "Oh yes," thought I, "I'm in control."
Then, there was a Queen butterfly nectaring on the wispy blue flowers. Flittering as I walked by. Nervous by my shadow. Then, there was another one. And they danced above the mistflower, talking to each other in butterfly language we will never understand (no matter how much we try to measure and control it).
In the end, at least for today, the butterflies reminded me that chaos was their friend, and that I am but an interloper.