It’s springtime. At this time of year, I find myself staring out of a sunny window, enjoying the warm glow of the sun, and dreaming about spending time in my garden, tending to new growth. A little fertilizer here, a tiny little prune there.
I developed my love of gardening with my mother. The garden is where we spent time together bonding. Years later she is gone, but her love of gardening lives with me, bigger and brighter than ever. One gardening lesson I learned from my mom is that whether we have to or not, we all grow and evolve. We all need to be nurtured, loved, attended to, and supported and if we get these needs met, we flourish.
Although she is no longer with us perhaps she exists on another plane of existence, in an alternate dimension. Perhaps she continues to shine her light of love from wherever she is now. I can feel it whenever I think of her.
“There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.” ― Nelson Mandela
Are you the same person today as you were five years ago? Unlikely. We are all more capable today as a result of learning and growing through experience and education. We learn valuable lessons from our mistakes. Life lessons. Honestly, this is a struggle – and I do mean a challenging battle – for many of us. If we just do not know how to do this consider consulting with your Psychologist. Once understood, we plan our days as well as our futures, founded on the invaluable lessons we’ve learned.
Change is often our best course of action, but when we have an emotional hurt that just will not go away, our tendency may be to clench up and try to maintain everything as it is. Is this really desirable, I ask? Is not having to change more important than the alternative of being happy, healthy, prosperous, well-adjusted individuals with significant relationships? Change is natural. Everything in life changes.
We might just as well ask about the meaning of life itself. Personal development and improvement? Is that not the point of change, growth, development, and evolution, anyway? Consider. Are we consistently fruitful and happy? Of course, we all have moments that are somewhat challenging, but the answer is universal. In fact, it is impossible to be consistently successful, well-adjusted and happy all of the time. Life fluctuates, and we move right along with it if we are wise.
The most healthy tree bends and is whipped around by the wind. Otherwise, it would break. As we accept the bumps and downturns of life, we strive and reach high. Like a flower reaching toward the sun. Like living on a continuum. Accept where we find ourselves when we wake. Then, not being completely unhappy or satisfied with this continuum point, we expend effort to move along the continuum in the desired direction. This movement creates and releases energy.
If we charted our experiences and emotions, they would reflect the ups and downs of any stock market chart. Hey now that is a matter for a different blog, but the stock market does, in fact, take into account public sentiment – how confident we feel toward the market at any given point in time, and it is always fluctuating up and down. However, if we were to continually experience the same emotion to the same degree, we would eventually lose that feeling. We would be unable to maintain it, and we would begin to feel something else, like a loss of that emotion, such as disappointment, sadness, or confusion. At best we would experience an emotional “flat line.” No shame or disappointment, but no joy, optimism, or happiness either. Blawness, if that makes sense. One feeling inspires us to enjoy the next one.
We can experience one emotion because we have experienced the other feeling. The one that counters the first; one that is somewhat different that balances us, emotionally. Consider emotions to live on a dichotomous scale, a continuum. Feelings then are always a relative experience. The fact that yesterday I was worried and confused is – in part – the reason that today I feel confident, focused, and creative.
In fact, if you experienced an exhilarating day yesterday, you might encounter a bit of a lull today. It is an evolutionary process of nature. We continuously flux emotionally, and emotions inform us of immediate change or movement. Like the seasons or the stock market, our mood will move either upwards or downwards, always self-correcting.
Today’s feelings give rise to tomorrow’s experiences. I only know the degree of my happiness today because I remember how bewildered I felt yesterday. We can actually “find ourselves” by making a conscious decision to change. If you are not happy with something about yourself – say you are still a smoker and hate that fact about yourself – when you are ready and decide that it is time to become a better person, you start feeling happier because of your decision to change.
To really feel happiness we need to accept ourselves of course, but that does not mean we shouldn’t also accept that part of ourselves that wants to grow, become stronger, and be more capable. If you realize that success and happiness might just be experienced more frequently by those who are disciplined – you can begin to struggle and practice with becoming more disciplined yourself. It is likely going to be a struggle but we need to hang in there, love ourselves through the process and maintain our focus on our ultimate goal until we get over the fight. Clearly, change is not all rainbows and lollipops, but perseverance with change sets us free.
You have heard the story about two wolves who meet in the woods, one black one white. They engage in a fight. Which one wins? The answer, if you know the story, is the one that you feed! The wolves are merely a metaphor for our inner struggles. Which wolf will you feed and nurture inside yourself – the smoker or the non-smoker; disciplined or carefree? There is no right answer, only your particular adventure. Will you nurture love or hold love back. You decide, but it will have an evolutionary impact, and it will move you along the continuum. Which direction? The choice is yours.
The point that I want to clarify here is that we have been the ones who have chosen all along. We were the ones who fed and nurtured one wolf over another the whole time. There have always been outside pressures on our decisions, but we made the final decisions. We might have been lacking a degree of conscious awareness about it, but then that too is a significant component of my message. The more aware we can become the clearer our decisions can be. If we are unhappy, dissatisfied or irritated in any way, we can decide to change, grow, develop, and evolve. However, only to the degree that we are clear and aware can we consciously create our own happiness and success.
The day you decide that you are more interested in being aware of your thoughts than you are in the thoughts themselves – that is the day you will find your way out. Michael Singer
Michael, I believe, is thinking about the importance of personal reflection. He is encouraging us to consider not just our garden and what is in it, but how it will make us and other visitors feel. This gardener thinks, plans, and creates strategies for a garden long before it comes into existence with the ultimate purpose of creating a place that will nurture the soul. Plenty of emotions spread throughout.
The gardener sows seeds and provides homes for baby plants according to a blueprint and then just cares for them as they mature into individually beautiful plants, finally displaying a very charming garden. A peaceful, meditative garden. The garden is the symbolic representation of our emotional world. You may recall that I have said that emotion or mood reflects the quality of change we make. We usually strive to achieve a final outcome, but as I’d like to suggest here, the quality of change may be ultimately more important and valuable.
As much as we rely on the love and kindness of others to meet our needs, we will benefit if we care for ourselves with respect and compassion too. Growing seasons come and go, showing up with a smile, only to wither into a peaceful slumber. The season has not died or ceased to exist. It merely naps, changing its form slightly and allowing what was there last season to show up all over again, this time bigger and better than ever before.
Some call it growth. Others maturity. Be very careful of the “thoughts,” and “beliefs,” “values” and “expectations” you plant. Just as my mom is no longer with us, her love of gardening lives with me, bigger and brighter than ever. I have had to make room for new plants that are important to me and weed out others that were likely more valuable or meaningful to my mom. Like the blossoming flower, we all reach up toward the sun. Such is life. Just one gardening lesson I learned from my mom.
“Dare to love yourself as if you were a rainbow with gold at both ends.” ― Aberjhani