5 Life Lessons Reinforced by Merely Watering the Garden.

These days I’m seeing connections and relationships in just about everything…as well as developing analogies and refining metaphors to help explain my thinking. A bit like the movie character Neo seeing the code of the Matrix for the first time. That heightened sense of situational awareness I’ve described many times as both important…and highly undervalued.

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I think it just may be the key to living a more complete human experience…especially when you realize how often you’re actually the one to blame when your senses go numb. Creatively, I use many activities to stay what I call “emotionally and intellectually alive.” Music, art, politics, exercise, religion just to name a few. Travel is another. However lately, one seemingly ordinary daily activity appears to be reinforcing some essential life lessons without much effort at all.

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Every morning, or at least most mornings and the occasional evening, this ritual helps set or reset the timing of my molecular clock. It awakens and calibrates my senses in such a clear, subtle and elemental way. More proof that the human race is hopelessly predisposed to over complicating just about everything…and further evidence that there are valuable lessens in even the smallest of experiences, interactions and activities. Even while watering the garden.

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  • Consistency in effort is an essential element of care.

Merely possessing empathy for a situation or person isn’t really enough. The fact that you have the reflex to care (and still not act) doesn’t work in the garden…or with relationships for that matter. At some point, you have to be willing to get your hands dirty and even get a little wet to make a real difference. And if you’re only going to care some of the time…don’t be surprised if something grows in the wrong direction, is somewhat stunted, or even dies all together.

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  • Most of the time, the right plant in the wrong setting will not be successful.

In nature, adaptability is often seen as a positive attribute. But what if something adapts to an unhealthy environment? Some things adapt to environments insufficient for sustainable growth. Thus, they are forced to limit how often they flower, and how well they grow in order to conserve the vital resources needed to survive. How often do we all do something similar? The trick is knowing when something is out of place, committing to the often evasive nature of a transplant…and having the patience to understand that it might take a little time and additional care, to reestablish something in a healthier situation.

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  • Over watering can lead to rot.

Plants like people can drown. Suffocation by over watering can limit the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the roots that feed the plant. How often do we try to solve problems, thinking we’re being helpful by throwing the same, simplistic solution at a problem? When maybe the better approach should have been to put in the effort to find more creative ways of fostering true growth…and full bloom. More proof that creativity is not always defined in an artistic sense…but in ones ability to develop multiple ways of solving a problem.

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  • Sometimes you have to carry the water.

If the resources for sufficient growth aren’t easy to access…you have to put in the work to find them, and bring them where they’re needed. In order to beautify parts of my yard, I have to fill two watering cans as there isn’t a hose nearby. It’s inconvenient, but worth the trip. Sound simple? Not so fast…if we’re going to be species that truly values and promotes love, tolerance and growth in each other I ask you this question: How willing are we to find ways to bring the necessary resources to places and relationships where care may be needed most? Real care is grounded in selfless service.

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  • Embrace the surprises that come with organic growth…but remember that weeds can grow faster than flowers.

Our obsession for controlled outcomes in the garden of life has gone to the extreme. So much so that so many things appear staged, forced and contrived. The concept of the English Garden has always appealed to me. Like life itself…it’s organized chaos. However, the less glamorous side of gardening is keeping the weeds and other negative influences at bay. It’s not nearly as sexy as tending to the growth of beautifully flowering plant…but it’s just as important. The same is true in life. The negative influences in your life are very similar to weeds in a garden. If gone unchecked, and allowed to fester, will inevitably overshadow and get in the way of all that is beautiful. Sometimes so much so, that the beautiful things in our lives just find other places to grow.

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Simple thinking? Maybe so. However, I am sure of two things. First, that most things in life and in the garden, in order to grow are in need of constant care. Nothing is automatic, and if it is…practice healthy skepticism. And second, that there’s a name for the sense of clarity, poise and beauty one finds in the midst of difficult and vulnerable situations… it’s called grace. And without fail I find her every morning…as I water the garden.

In memory of Nancy S., Ken J., Grace W. & Randy R.
All of whom made whatever garden they were in…that much more special.