Imagine the most exquisite garden, overflowing with rainbow hued flowers that attract buzzing bees, succulent fruits, and luscious vegetables that you are eager to sample. It is a feast for all the senses. You stand back and drink in the beauty, sighing with delight. The truth is, that garden of earthly delights exists within you. It is comprised of your dreams and desires, your wishes. and visions. You are the gardener.
When cultivating an actual garden, there are specific steps to take for it to produce those beautiful flowers, fruits, or veggies. Choose a plot of land and clear it of stones and rubble.
- Prepare the soil.
- Decide what you want to grow. If you want watermelons, don’t plant cucumbers.
- Scatter the seeds and tamp them down into the earth.
- Water and feed and be sure it gets just the right amount of sunlight.
- Fertilize it.
- Watch the sprouts make their way through the dirt.
- Weed, so that the invaders don’t choke out the growth of what you want to emerge.
- Patiently observe their progress.
- Harvest the results of your labor of love.
Much like the instructions above, when we have a vision of something we want to create in our lives, step eight is as important to seeing it come to fruition as any of the others. It’s also the least enjoyable.Come on a journey with me as we explore the garden you wish to cultivate. Consider your life as it is in the moment. Are you feeling fulfillment or dissatisfaction? If you could clear the plot and prepare the soil for what you want to grow, would you need to simply turn over the soil with a tiny shovel or would you need a bulldozer to empty the space of all that was there before? It’s been referred to as ‘divine discontent,’ when we know there is more that we are called on to do, that compels us to take steps that we may not have otherwise. When we ignore that prompting, it gets louder and requires more muscle and heftier equipment to prepare for new growth. We might think of the weeds as those nagging voices that tell us that it’s time for a change. There is a trope that people who are spiritual can’t have negative thoughts, those pesky weeds. We must always glow brightly, smile beatifically, and go with the flow. We are told that we are supposed to walk on sunshine and be non-judgmental. This has been referred to as ‘toxic positivity’. According to Mark Manson, author of, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life, “Everything worthwhile in life is won through surmounting the associated negative experience. Any attempt to escape the negative, to avoid it, quash it, or silence it only backfires. The avoidance of suffering is a form of suffering. The avoidance of struggle is a struggle. The denial of failure is a failure. Hiding what is shameful is itself a form of shame.” Ridding the garden of the underbrush takes a bit of emotional untangling. It involves finding a friend to join you in the arbor. The conversation may begin this way: “Are you able to listen while I vent about the things that aren’t going the way I would like them to in my life?” Let them know if you want feedback or just a listening ear. If they agree, set a time limit; perhaps five minutes as you have at it, complaining about every aspect of your life if it moves you to do so. Let your petulant child out to rant. You can stomp your feet and scrunch your face. Once you are complete, thank your friend for being your sounding board. Take time to journal about the experience. The next step is to consider what changes you can make, what tools and supports you will need to do so. Ask for help and be willing to receive it. Because weeding isn’t a one and done task, be prepared to use this gardening tool as often as you need to. Enjoy the fruits of your labor.