As I’ve said many times before, the garden is my teacher. A life coach of the highest order. On par with any TED talk and that is giving high praise indeed. Gardening keeps me on the straight and narrow. It’s how I communicate and stay connected to the Universe.
Following on the heels of Thanksgiving when gratitude was very much acknowledged, I’ve been thinking a great deal about forgiveness. Mostly because it is something I struggle with. The minor, petty annoyances are easy to forgive but it’s the hurt caused by those who matter to me that demand that in which I find myself sadly deficient. I’d like to think all of us are born this way because there is comfort in not being alone. Yet, it’s up to each of us to learn to forgive routinely and in our own unique way. To some, pardoning comes with an enviable grace. The Amish community that immediately forgave the shooter who killed several of their dear ones comes to mind. To others it does not seem to be of much importance whatsoever. Those are the same ones who are perfectly comfortable stopping at a soup kitchen because the food is free and then proceed to the movies in a cab. And then there are those like me who must consciously and deliberately work to conquer their baser instincts.
There is well documented evidence that the act of forgiving lowers the blood pressure as well as the heart rate. That in itself is good motivation. However, it is so much more beneficial than that. By getting rid of negative emotions and grudges, life can be lived to it’s fullest. By shedding oneself of such energy saboteurs, we are at liberty to move forward and achieve amazing things. Like everything else in my life, I’ve turned to the garden to provide guidance. It teaches by example. Does that sound absurd to you? It did to a friend to whom I’d mentioned it. But, the garden did not let me down.
In this situation, I became acutely aware of how often my botanical haven has forgiven my own transgressions. When I’ve failed in providing adequate water during a particularly brutal summer, it did not die on me. Instead, it slowed its growth and still managed to reward me with flowers and food.
Each year when I go away on vacation, the weeds exploit my absence. They crowd out young plants, suffocate others and prevent still others from receiving enough sunlight. So much so that on my return home, I venture into the garden with a good degree of trepidation. What I never fail to be amazed by is how valiantly the legitimate plants have coped. Once I start removing the offending weeds, the plants waste no time in returning to the business of productivity. There is no sulking, no tantrum or recrimination.
When I inadvertently trample on a plant and render it decapitated, there is no reproach. Quietly it senses that my guilt is enough punishment and patiently strives to grow anew. I have made so many horticultural mistakes and caused so much harm over the years and still the garden has been steadfast as teacher and friend. I’ve received gifts of such value that no price can be placed. Its as though the care I’ve tried to give over the years is remembered and appreciated while past misadventures are forgotten. So if all my abuse, albeit unintended, can be forgiven, surely I too can try and pay that lesson forward?
It’s always harder to do whats right or good. Applying organic practices is more time consuming. Eating healthy is more expensive. A diet that is largely plant based requires more preparatory work.Trying to do good is fraught with hurdles. Ever noticed that? Composting takes more effort than tossing everything in the garbage. Recycling has one cleaning and removing labels first. To think kindly of a difficult person is a real effort and its easier to think bad. Likewise being environmentally conscious. I’ve often wondered if it’s the Universe’s way of testing us to see how earnest we are in our intentions. That’s why it is so hard to get folk to do whats right consistently. Think about it. Turning the other cheek is easier said than done.
Therefore, I’m really going to take my cues from my forgiving garden. My first step was to take a big deep breath and as I exhaled, I forgave the rascally squirrels that ate every single fruit in the garden this year. I will no longer question their motive in knocking down unripe fruit and barely taking a nibble. You know what? It actually lightened my mood. Letting go of grudges is hugely freeing. It opened up spaces within as though my heart just got bigger. I’m working on the Japanese beetles that decimated several plants as well as a couple of humans who behaved no better with me.
In this feel good season of gratitude and kindness, do give forgiveness a try. It’ll be a rather nice way to ease into the new year. A proper fresh start in many ways. Please do tell me about your experiences and how and what works for you. I really want to know.
Will I now forget as well? Lets not get carried away. One self-improvement at a time please.
(c) Shobha Vanchiswar 2012