One of the lessons I learn from my garden which I think has the most impact on other aspects of life is the moment when I have to pull out the plants once their life cycle is over. This is especially true of annuals but also other plants that have died, or are in the wrong places, weeds that have sprung up where they shouldn’t, thinning out seedlings too closely sprouted. Numerous occasions when I have to orchestrate this cacophony of plants to create harmonious music. And I am quite sure that without my intervention, the plants would do just fine and maybe jostle with each other and the boisterous ones will survive, and the tender ones perish. In time, no doubt, the garden will become unsightly to our eyes trained to look for a certain kind of beauty. For a garden is nothing more than an unnatural space created by the gardener to make it look as natural as possible. But that’s okay, That’s what gardening is all about. We, as the caretakers of our gardens, dig, pull, adjust, maintain, plant, remove, all to create spaces of harmony, interest and great beauty.
But, back to where I got side-tracked. The letting go part. When the time comes to pull out the plants at the end of their life cycle that I raised from seeds and pile on the compost heap I find myself acutely aware of this task. Of course, it is a natural life-death-life cycle, but remembering the tiny seeds that I once held in my hands and carefully put in seed trays, watching every day for signs of green and then the joy I felt when the little sprouts poked their tender shoots up through the dark soil, and afterwards transplanting them to the flower-beds, watching them grow and become big robust and vigorous plants and finally burst into colourful flowers that dance in the wind, does not make the task of pulling them out easier. But, once their job is done, the plants themselves send out signals, asking the gardener to pull them up and return them to the compost where in due time they will turn into soil that will nourish and feed the next generation of plants. And so, letting go in the garden actually takes on a very tangible meaning. How easy it should then be to let go in real life, right?
Wrong. The garden, or nature, in general merely tells us how it should be done, points out the natural flow of life, of existence. But we as humans, come with an entire package of emotions, feelings, sentiments that complicate life and the rhythm that it actually has. There is beauty in that, too. Today, sitting at my desk my mind, my being is flooded with emotions, both great ones and ugly ones. I carry all the hurt, the dejection, the melancholy like a trophy on my back. Something to be proud of? Definitely not. Something to pull out when a little self-pity is needed. Yes, but a small yes. Why do I keep lugging something so heavy that no longer serves me in any way? I don’t know that answer to that. But I do know that the moments when my loved ones said hurtful things to me, the moments when I felt the whole world turned its back on me, the moments when extreme loneliness led to excesses in food and drink, mostly drink, are not moments I want to remember. But memory is a fabulous trickster. It allows us to re-live moments of our lives, over and over again. Press the re-play button and off we go on our carousel of emotions.
What if I only wanted to remember the good things? Ah, now that won’t happen, my friend. Because then you would be in denial. Denying entry to the “bad” ones, accepting only the “great” moments. For memory is everything that is past, including the good and the bad. Just as the gardener knows that the life-death-life cycle consists of all parts, death as well, so must we accept the negative in lives. It is the wholeness of us, the greatness and the lowness that makes us fragile and vulnerable beings. Are we ready to embrace that? Am I ready to embrace the full me, with my ups and downs, my shortcomings, my anger, my hurt, my temper, but also my joy, my compassion, my love? Can I accept myself just as I am, today, right now? The transition from unconscious behaviour to conscious thoughts and actions, from ignorance to acceptance, from complex to simple is all that is asked of me. The letting go will be the natural consequence of the awareness. Where do I begin? With the breath, of course. It always begins with the breath.
We cannot see Beauty till we let go our hold of it- Tagore