I know the metaphor is cliché, but I lack a metaphor more sufficient to adequately reflect my thoughts today. Please forgive my lack of imagination.
In our youth, we plant seeds – the choices of college, career, lifestyle, income level – or at least in an ideal world we choose these things. For some, it takes a little longer to discover the best seeds. We go about our lives, tending to the consequences of those choices – family, employment, leisure time, career advancement, lifestyle changes; at times quite mindful of the deliberateness of our choices and at others, just keeping the days from becoming over-chaotic.
Years come and go with the frenzy of birthday parties and holidays and bills and job promotions and relocations and gas prices and groceries. Former friendships fade and new friendships begin, life uproots some seeds, transplants others, and those seeds we chose in our youth must fend for themselves, though we might water them once in awhile.
Life occasionally reminds us of those seeds we planted. We muse over the garden of our lives in spurts and starts, but little things have crept in like weeds into our once well-tended, well-planned garden. We think: I’ll get to it later, or I have to put that on my to-do list, and then one day we look around, and we see one part of the garden over-tended, another flourishing, and another part nearly choked out with the weeds that we never invited into our lovely garden. The seeds we planted may have taken root with purpose, in haphazard ways, or not at all.
The garden we imagined in our youth when we planted those seeds may be unrecognizable, it may have faint traces of once-beautiful patches, or – for those highly self-disciplined folks – it may look just like it was planned. Very few of us, I feel, can sustain a highly tended type of garden. Our garden has spots in which the tools of abandoned attempts to landscape lay strewn among debris the wind and the weather have brought in; the passage of time bears witness against us.
We begin to pull the weeds, and in the pulling, we find the grace, the intentions, the work, and the joy of tending our own life. We remember that in order to grow, a seed needs water, sunlight, food, and love.
We may find that the seeds we once chose may need more attention than we are willing to invest, or that the passion for tending the seeds we once chose is worthy of re-investment. We again choose the seeds we love, remove the weeds that choke, tend the areas of urgency, and we focus on the garden amidst the chaos of time, weather, and chance. Life finds a way to remind us that we need to tend our own garden; and when the time is right, our lives will ripen into the beauty we embrace deep within ourselves – as long as we tend the garden faithfully and deliberately.
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