You know that thing we all do….
….where we convince ourselves that when such and such a thing has happened things will be easier, different, better. When I pass my exams, leave school, lose weight, get that job, find the perfect man, ditch the perfect man when he turns out to be not so perfect, (actually I’ve stuck with mine and am really pleased that I have but you know what I mean), have a baby, get promoted, retire; when the children pass their exams, leave school, lose weight…. oops here we go again….
So anyway – when any and all of these things happen I will have arrived at the place I was waiting for and life will be better.
Well you know what I’ve discovered…. it doesn’t work like that. There are a few problems with this approach. First off, what if the thing you’ve been waiting for never happens? Does that mean life will never be as good as it was supposed to be, you were hoping it to be, you deserve it to be? And secondly, what if you get the thing you’ve been waiting for and it turns out to be different from how and what you were expecting?
Because you know what I’ve learnt…. life is invariably different from what we expect. And thank heavens it is. Because how boring it would be if it was just a question of planning and waiting. The problem is that when we get stuck in the groove of always looking ahead, waiting for the big event that is going to change our lives forever, then we don’t see what is going on around us. And what is going on around us is the really interesting stuff.
Gardens and gardening have taught me a lot about this. Because they never do what they’re told, things rarely work out the way you think they are going to, and even on the darkest days stuff is going on below the surface to bring delight when you least expect it.
You know how it is…. You can pin all your hopes on the roses blooming in June, and like this year they bloom in July. You can plan your entire garden around box topiary for structure and form – and end up with box blight….. aaaaaarggghhhYou can plant four malus coronaria var. dasycalyx (that’s crab apple trees to the uninitiated) and only three of them thrive.
These are the challenges. We have to adapt and move forwards. And more often than not we find that what looked like disaster is a window to a different and better way of looking at things.
That’s gardening for you. If you want order and predictability then you’re in for disappointment. But if you stay alert, keep your eyes open and live in the moment then there is so much pleasure to be had. Like the aquilegia in my garden earlier this year that has self seeded in abundance and joined hands with the tulips. Like the stachys that miraculously appeared out of nowhere (in the compost I’m thinking) because it knew how good it would look with the iris and allium. Like the shuttlecock fern that has spread around the tiny dancer flowers of the dicentra.
These are the joys of gardening – the unpredictable, the unexpected, the unanticipated. We all need goals, we need direction and focus. But if we’re too busy pinning our hopes on the future we might miss what’s going on in the present. And the now is where it’s all happening….