by Teri Pugh
Gardening: Cultivating or tending to the growth of.
Stay with me on this. As humans and individuals we are co-creators of our lives – our own garden if you will. What we focus on consciously or not, oftentimes manifests into our personal reality. This is not only true on the scale of our individual lives, but collectively can be true of our society, country – even our world. We make choices on a daily basis. Many are routine responses out of habit and lifestyle. Even as a result of our childhood belief system or circumstances, our choice in what we choose to believe becomes seeds which we sow in our personal garden. In the not so far-off future, they will become our circumstances. The by-product of sowing “weed seeds” is that soon what was designed and envisioned to be a loving, positive garden full of an abundant amount of happiness, compassion and awareness becomes overrun with judgment and cynical damaging thought patterns of ourselves and others.
In life, sometimes we get more hills than we do flatland but the good news is that a garden, so long as it’s tended to, can flourish in any environment. It takes daily mindfulness to keep the positive in and the weeds out. Sometimes that can mean that we must not only shift or conscious thinking but also that we must consider setting boundaries for ourselves to ensure that we are the best gardener of our soul that we can be. Seems like a tall order doesn’t it? Well, think of it this way…every word, every action, every thought we release into our immediate world sets in motion its own singular ripple effect. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that what you say, what you do and what you feel do not have any effect on the world round you, most of all yourself.
Here’s a simple example of a ripple effect. Say I hit the snooze button one too many times before getting up and getting ready for work. Once up, I’m rushing around the house, my dog Daisy is excited to see me and is wagging her tail and running around my feet and barking. Her growing affection annoys me as I am running late but in an attempt to avoid her I spill my coffee on my blouse and as a result, must change clothes. Now I’m further behind schedule. Daisy senses the anger in my voice as I command her to “go lay down” and she cowers away (I have chosen to respond in anger to the simplest act - Love). Moments later my child comes downstairs and is on Mommy repeat, “Mommy look, Mommy look” eager to show me her creative noodle necklace (if you’re a parent it’s likely you have at least one of these in your jewelry ensemble) but I’m beyond frustrated and frazzled, and out of an abrasive off the cuff re-action reply, “YES! I see…ANOTHER noodle necklace, it’s not like I’ve not seen that before!” Feelings hurt, my daughter leaves the room (a kinder choice in words rather than split-second anger would have nurtured my child rather than planting a seed that “she” was the reason mommy was late or angry). Fast forward, in traffic, which I wouldn’t have been had I not set in motion this chain of events by “choosing” to hit the snooze button one to many times. I notice a car trying desperately to edge over. Their turn signal on, patiently waiting they hope someone, okay - ME will be nice enough to let them cut in, but I’m already late and annoyed so I choose not let them over. What I didn’t know was they were on their way to Hospice to see a dying family member. Feeling a false sense of victory having not let my fellow rush-hour neighbor over, I plow ahead. Soon I pull up upon a street vendor who is selling the local paper, rather than make eye contact and say “good morning” I choose to turn the other way, quickly rolling my window up to avoid making any contact with him at all, but he witnesses my hurried actions (a sense of defeat comes over him). Arriving at the office, I immediately run into a staff member, by now in full-blown “the world is against me mode,” I lash out or worse, engage in a game of passive aggressive roulette. I chose to reply with a fairly sharp tongue which sets in motion yet another dangerous ripple effect.
Not only have I spread my negative weed seeds everywhere like a crop duster gone wild. I’ve now managed to toss them into others unsuspecting gardens. My dog, Daisy chews up my shoe that day. My daughter gets into trouble a preschool for screaming at another child. The man in traffic beats himself up for “not being there,” the street vendor takes that forbidden drink. My co-worker goes home and unleashes his own fury on his wife and children as a result of our interactions earlier in the day. Are you seeing the trend here? We “choose.” We choose to plant seeds of Love, Patience, Compassion and Kindness – or not too. Now this isn’t to say that every day is cotton candy and ferris wheels by any means. After all, we’re human and we expect that at some point we will have bad moments, but it’s how we choose to “think” before we react, its how we choose to “think” before we speak that will determine how beautiful our garden grows. As humans, we somehow get consumed with the frantic pace of life unfolding around us and become desensitized by the ever-growing wave of detachment, cynicism and sadness that has slowly crept in on us. We’ve somehow forgotten the reality that we are part of a force greater than ourselves and we have a responsibility to spread kindness, compassion and love to those around us. As human beings we have the innate ability to change our behavior. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it takes looking a bit deeper into the reason why we feel the way we do. And let’s face it; there are some folks who would rather experience root canal before entertaining the notion that even for a second they might be part of the problem at hand. Still, this doesn’t mean they can’t dip their hand into that wheel barrel of kaka and pull out a delicate flower. Think about that the next time you are a one of those super centers buying your spring time starter bulbs. Each flower you see started off as a seed and their potential for becoming the best they could be was a direct result of a human tending to the garden.
If we find ourselves a bit off kilter as a result of too much negativity, perhaps it is time to readjust our thinking. If we have old wounds that simply refuse to heal, heartache, anger or grief that we have not yet processed and come to terms with, it’s essential to our well-being and personal growth to address those issues. Having a new perspective on past pain can truly reshape your future. The simplest of mindful actions can set in motion ripple effects that can sweep our world, but no one can initiate that forward motion but us. When we truly desire to change our world, we will find that we gravitate toward that which supports us and enables us to reach our highest good. As we evolve, we continue to attract those positive people and circumstances that nurture us. This is why gardening really does matter, now go on; don’t you have some beautiful seeds to sow?