Life has a strange way of burying you when you least expect it and, maybe not so strangely, this often follows on the heels of your commitment to a big new goal. Sometimes this a bad thing, snowing you under with one disaster after the other until you’re sure you’re on some dark sitcom and the audience is laughing their patooties off at your misfortune. Sometimes this is a good thing and the ideas and opportunities roll in at blinding speed. And sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference because any change can be a challenge and all failure/misfortune is an opportunity.
Here’s a post I wrote in my early days of the Life List Club. It’s truer now than it was then. These days, changes are flying at me almost faster than I can keep up but I’m
learning to be thankful for every minute.
The Wild Green Yonder
originally posted at Diana Ligaya’s blog 8/13/12
This may sound somewhat familiar to you.
You commit to a big change in your life such as losing weight or becoming a published author. And, as soon as you set the goal and begin laying out your plan, the interruptions start rolling in. Likely, before the goal is even made public, your friends, family and strangers on the street are offering you goodies and distractions. A thousand ways to keep your goals postponed, the weight on or the words off the page.
It’s like the universe is conspiring against you and you have no idea how to stop it.
But it’s not really the universe conspiring against you. You’ve simply become an open patch of earth, waiting to be filled with wild green life.
You’re like a garden of freshly turned earth. Perhaps your goals are tomato plants or zucchini or a young apple tree. The moment you clear space for the new plants, you open a place for all the other wild green things to grow. They will fill in the garden if you let them, choking out the seedlings and saplings you’ve so carefully planted.
So, you have to tear the weeds out the moment they begin to invade. Right?
Sometimes the dreaded weeds have their uses. My mother-in-law gets very excited about some of the weeds that pop up. She insists on harvesting them to make Korean delicacies before those weeds end up in the compost pile. For me, it’s the dandelions that thrill. The children and I love to blow the dandelion fluff off the spent flowers. One of these days, I mean to make something out of the dandelions. Tea and wine and salad.
And, sometimes, there are treasures among the weeds. Nearly every year, we have a volunteer plant surprise in our garden. One year it was two sunflowers. They grew tall and nodded at the sun, delighting the children who pretended to be tiny fairies beneath the giant flowers. Another year we had a volunteer tomato, a lovely stripey green tomato. This year we have volunteer potatoes and I cannot even begin to guess how a potato ended up in the garden (perhaps it was one of those swallows that likes to carry coconuts around). If I’d have pulled every unsanctioned green thing out of the garden, I would have missed those volunteers.
If we tear out every tiny weed that rears its leafy head, we’ll miss the unexpected delights that come along with them. But, if we let them go, the wild growth will strangle those plants we put into the ground on purpose.
Just so with our goals. We must nurture those goals, watering them, clearing space around them and mulching them to protect from encroaching weeds. But we must also leave room for all the unexpected things, on guard against the weedy deluge but ready to see those things that enrich our gardens and protect them too.
For me, the wild green things are all the household surprises like clogged toilets and clutter that piles up, arguments between the children, phone calls and emails, and a thousand minor excitements and crises. But among those things are opportunities to play with my children, time out with my husband, calls from friends and family, and tidbits of knowledge that further my goals. The trick is knowing when to pull the wild green things and when to let them grow.
What are your wild green things and how do balance it so that your goals don’t get lost under the leafy tide?
Image Attribution (In Order of Appearance):
Close Up of Raised Beds by BrotherMagneto, on Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0
Dandelion clock by rachelandrew, on Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0
Seedling by _sjg_, on Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0