The garden is one of the two great metaphors for humanity. The garden is about life and beauty and the impermanence of all living things. The garden is about feeding your children, providing food for the tribe. Its part of an urgent territorial drive that we can probably trace back to animals storing food. Its a competitive display mechanism, like having a prize bull, this greed for the best tomatoes and English tea roses. Its about winning; about providing society with superior things; and about proving that you have taste, and good values, and you work hard. And what a wonderful relief, every so often, to know who the enemy is. Because in the garden, the enemy is everything: the aphids, the weather, time. And so you pour yourself into it, care so much, and see up close so much birth, and growth, and beauty, and danger, and triumph. And then everything dies anyway, right? But you just keep doing it.
Bird by Bird” by Anne Lamott.
Lets say you want to create a beautiful garden. Prepare the land i.e. you pull the weeds, till the soil and plant and tend the seeds of the flowers, trees and plants youd like to see one day bloom.
If we want to create a beautiful life, the good life, weve gotta treat our minds and lives with the same care we would a gardenpulling out the weed thoughts ,behaviors, actions and only planting the seeds we want to see come to fruition.
In other words, if you want a life filled with joy, love, appreciation, kindness, generosity, wisdom, patience, courage, creativity, and enthusiasm, PLANT THOSE SEEDS.
So nature has her fair share of lessons for the good life.
To think youre going to get that goodness, strength and beauty, when youre constantly sowing the seeds of anger, fear, greed, impatience, laziness, half-assness, entitlement and hate,
This just isnt very wise, huh?
So What seeds are you planting, o dear gardener?
What metaphor would you use to describe your picture of how life is supposed to work for you? How do we choose to view life?
One way we do so is the use of metaphors. In his book, Notebook from a Friend A Quick and Simple Guide to Taking Charge of Your Life, Anthony Robbins says “Behind every metaphor is a system of beliefs. When you choose a metaphor to describe your life, or your situation, you choose the beliefs it supports too. This is why you want to be careful about the way you describe your worldto yourself or to anyone else.”
Of course, this use is one inspiring way to make life, a little less random and more pragmatic, a human craft from the parables of old to the narratives of today’s cinema as means to help us understand a big truth which cant be fully expressed, or accurately portrayed by the use of common or intellectual tongue.
What metaphor do you use to describe your life? Will you stick with that image, or change it? Hear is why I think the use of the great two metaphors i.e. the river and garden are not just rich with wisdom but, paint a vivid picture to what it may mean to embrace the act of living, and at best, are lovely, simple and calm fruits to the soul.
Here is why they resonant more than most life metaphors to me and perhaps why they can be said to be the greatest and somewhat bounce off each other in such a rich harmony.
Because so much of life is learning that living life well is so much about expectations; and how we react and later act to the said expectations that we shaped by how we view life.
Your metaphor about what life is and is supposed to be really determines your life experience. If you have a faulty view, you may not end up with a faulty life but may miss an otherwise ok one. Your experience matches your worldview.
Pail Coelho says the river reminds us that we are always doing things for the first time. We should face these novelties with joy, not with fear because it is useless to fear what cannot be avoided. A river never stops running.
Avail yourself to the unconventional, whatever you do above all be determined and dont get frustrated or give frustration the last word.
Sailing on the river of life isnt always a linear course, so be patient. Its a sailboat ride. And the weather changes, and the currents change, and the wind changes.
In life, we travel up stream, through the current of society. More often than we want stuff won’t pan out as you wish, but dont oppose or blame society. Society is in a situation of its on. Resist the temptation to renounce it, your time and energy are better off somewhere.
When hardship or torrents of life prevails say, Thats life” and marshal your dignity to navigating the disappointment the best you can. When the water calms and society tosses me out, is it wiser to stay the course or find another way?
You have to accept that in order to ultimately arrive where you want, you must allow course corrections often, be humble and accept the way of the journey. You even have to allow for what might appear to be detours, repairs, unexpected routes, new discovery and failures being your greatest lessons.
The old stoic adage reminds us to know that not everything is within your control, only your response and attitude. So as with us and the river, we have to navigate with a strategy.
So much of life is beyond our control, and to tame this mighty road completely may be our demise, but that doesnt mean we have to simply be victims, for our sailing is surely within our control, shall we chatter the wind in the direction we aspire?
Where men see trouble, we sail and see opportunity, I can choose my attitude. I can choose my environment. I can choose my behavior. I can choose to learn and build my strategy to overcome a task, I can choose to stay and not go.
Rear Admiral Grace Hopper once said A ship in port is safe; but that is not what ships are built for. Sail out to sea and do new things. A Ship is strong, so should we build ourselves to be strong .The storms shall pass.
Ships may sail out but, they always return to port. This essential maintenance is scheduled in, to keep it strong, to extend its life, so it can keep on carrying its cargo. How important is it for us to adopt and manage good habits and take care of ourselves uniquely each and every day.
An old farmer was once asked at a meeting of the Agricultural Congress to give his opinion on the best slope of land for the raising of a particular kind of fruit. “It does not make so much difference,” said the old man, about the slope of the land as the slope of the man.” ‘Many a farmer who has the right slope makes a good living and gets a competence on very poor soil, while the farmer who does not slope the right way barely exists upon the richest soil. Happiness does not depend so much upon our being favorably environed as upon the slope of our mind. It is not enough to extract happiness from ideal conditions; any one can do that. But it is the self -mastered, the self -poised soul who can get happiness out of the most inhospitable surroundings. “Paradise is here or nowhere. You must take your joy with you or you will never find it.
Orisen Swett Madden
Just as you should have a vision for your garden, so to with life. What kind of life do you want to have? What flowers do you want to bloom, what soil is good for you and how do you achieve nourishment? What do you want to do or have, and experience in your garden?
Plant the seeds that will bear the fruit that are most important to you. Then, work with the seasons of your life if you wish, you can try planting different seeds. Seeds of love, kindness, right speech and generosity .You just cant plant too many things at the same time. If we dont consciously reap good fruit, the world will lay waste to our gardens. You Reap What You Sow.
Many people take a look at their lives, they dont like what they see, and they wonder what went wrong. Ask yourself, what mental seeds to we choose to plant daily? Are you looking for the so called greener pastures? Unaware of the Eden, you are living in and graced with every day?
The garden teaches us to prune negative people, thoughts and emotions from our lives wisely, to learning to bend with the challenges of Life and let go. To adapt to the hardships of lifes storms and think on our feet. The garden also teaches us to bask in the beauty of handwork, the brightness of creation and to always appreciate the small things and the course of growth with any projection.
Depending on what these factors are, some goals in your garden will be much easier for you to achieve than others. So make sure that you choose goals that are a good fit for you. As a gardener, analyze the environment and the circumstances you find yourself in. A garden needs constant tending, this requires we have the patience to create truth, love, beauty and goodness in anything we set our minds to.
All you can do is take the action that is most likely to produce the results that you want, and then patiently await the results. As with ships, many other things which are not within our control can be damaged and are no strange to harsh winds, be flexible and look for ways to keep moving forward.
To this, I celebrate the river and garden’s rich timely messages, to this I say be ever an art, to use flowers and fruit to paint, and the flow of water as a majestic canvas, and our lives a beautiful creation, we the artist, our lives all the more worth it.”
Does Heaven speak? The four seasons pursue their courses, and all things are continually being produced, but does Heaven say anything?