Gardening is not your 21st century 3D computer game that defies the laws of science and promotes all that isn’t gentle nor pleasant—not exactly everyone’s main source of pleasure. But that doesn’t discount the fact that plants have lives and if you go beyond the seeming disconnect between what is and what isn’t universally accepted as pleasurable—cliché as it may be to say—plants can teach us a thing or two about all that spells life.
*Cue tears-inducing, emotions-stirring music*
1. Always nip your problems in the bud.
You find dealing with your problems a problem in itself. But whether you like it or not, even after downing a whole bottle of fine whiskey, if you are in a huge quandary—emotional or monetary—then there’s no way that you can or should think otherwise. Like plants trying to find their rightful spot under the sun, you should always keep your head held up high. Process what you see straight on. Map out your actions based on how you would like what you see to turn out to. That’s how the cookie crumbles.
2. Like gardening, life is a series of rejections.
But there’s no stopping you from doing what you love even if rejections start to give off shoots of convolutions and uncertainties. You spend half of your free time trying to grow a good batch of tomatoes only to find out that a cluster of aphids has taken your plant down like a sand castle wiped off by giant ocean waves crashing onto the shore. But this doesn’t mean you can no longer start over and plant a new batch. If anything, you’ll find yourself more knowledgeable and equipped, so much so that the metaphoric aphids we call rejections no longer form part of your planting routines.
3. The ones that appear to be weak turn out to be strong.
Never think of a bamboo as any less strong than it actually is. The ones you think are weak sometimes turn out to be the strongest—they only need some time to fully grow. A plant, at the start of its life, knows all too well that it is bound to get planted beneath the ground, covered in soil, and marooned in a strange place. But the joy comes when it learns to look for sunlight and stuff itself up with all the nourishments it needs to sprout into existence.
4. Sometimes, silence makes the loudest music.
Some people find it relieving to shout at the top of their lungs out of frustration or anger. While this may have advantages on some levels, nothing compares to the peace and quiet you get when you handle things with a calm mind. Looking past the obvious, have you ever marvelled at how plants grow at their own pace without too much fuss? They move in their own time and exist on their own terms without becoming other plants’ source of aggravation. They live without having to throw shade at other plants. And all they need to do to survive is live harmoniously with one another. Plain and simple.
5. Like plants, don’t limit your potentials.
Plants grow as high as they can. They don’t limit and deprive themselves of the opportunity to grow and reach greater heights. When they feel that they no longer get the nourishments they need, say sunlight, they go out of their way to find just that. Persistence is what makes plants strong—the same trait you can live by in order for you to get to where you want to go.
6. Plants build their own defences.
And they do this not to shut other plants or animals out but to protect themselves from the possibility of getting hurt. As it is with love, no one really gives their all out of fear of getting torn apart and hopelessly starting over from ground up. Never be afraid to build up a trusty defence, but not so tough that you’d lock yourself up and never allow people to come into your life.
7. Give out more than you take.
As we all know, plants give off oxygen, the very thing that humans need in order to survive. Giving is what helps plants grow and they do this without any hint of selfishness. There’s something fulfilling and joyful in giving. Giving something you build with your own blood, sweat, and tears makes it even more special. It doesn’t always have to be a pricey item—a handful of freshly-picked flowers from your own garden will surely make a difference.
8. Plants can easily adapt to changes.
They don’t dwell in a specific phase as they are created knowing that they need to go through life’s many great phases. From the moment they are planted, up to the time they begin to sprout, a series of changes constantly take place, pushing them to toughen up and survive. They can easily adapt to different seasons as they acknowledge the fact that the failure to do so may lead to them getting weak and fragile. They welcome change with open arms and change is what fuels them to grow bigger.
9. Plants come in different composition and build. Be considerate.
You’ll never know how a plant is going through internally. Always be considerate and gentle. One plant may have its root planted deeply in the ground while another may have it just right below the surface. That’s the beauty of not knowing everything—you tend to be more respectful, considerate, and unassuming.
10. The beauty of life comes in different colours.
Each plant produces a blend of different colours. One colour may not be exactly what piques your interest. But what is dull to you may be what excites the other. If you start to widen your horizon, you’ll see that one shade represents a whole gamut of other shades. You just have to open your eyes to the indescribable beauty of life. Think of it as a canvas, your perception of life being the canvas. Splash a little red, a dash of blue, and a sprinkle of yellow onto the canvas and you get a grand spectrum of colours.
11. Never take even small growths for granted.
Plants are never in a hurry. They know that they need to go through each phase without having to speed through the next. They appreciate each small growth they undergo. Some of us go out into the field expecting that we’d easily get what we want. Sorry to burst your bubble, but that’s not exactly how it works. Take one sure step at a time. One small achievement may introduce you to a totally different one, more remarkable than you could ever imagine.
12. Plants contribute to the community.
They are never self-centred. Whatever they think is of value to others, they generously give out. They contribute a lot to the ecosystem, maintaining the balance it needs to flourish. They don’t think of themselves as any more superior than the next plant, that they need to take in all that’s being offered to them. What they do, more than anything else, is go out of their way to contribute to their community.
13. Plants do not let their surroundings define what they are.
No two people think alike. You will always be that person who eats hotdogs without ketchup, dances like a retarded seal, or laughs like a carefree child being tickled by a hundred fingers. The way you sleep, the way you tie your shoelace, or the way you pronounce the word ‘anemone’ even when the whole world shouts back at you saying, “it’s Uh-nem-uh-nee”—all that represents you and your personality and not what your surroundings otherwise say, that is what and who you really are.
14. Plants are never too emotional.
They don’t stress over what other plants think about them. They don’t go to bed at night thinking about how bad their appearance was or how heavy their workload during the day got up to be. Similarly, they don’t wake up the next day thinking that it’s too late to start over and correct any mistakes they’ve had. They simply exist to grow, that’s all that matters to them, anything more complicated than that and they become just another set of living things trying to mark their spot in the expansive corners of the world.
15. Plants always lead a life of contentment.
They don’t live to acquire all of the nourishments their surroundings have, for in that process they only become parasitic monsters hollowed out inside. They only get what they think is enough for them to grow and survive. They acknowledge the fact that they coexist with other plants with the same set of needs and taking everything in and not sparing some may lead to a tragic communal death. They don’t get more than what they need. Contentment is what gives plants abundance.
16. Never be afraid to try again but know that giving up is not at all bad.
You pour all your might into growing a good batch of flower seeds. But however hard you try and no matter how plenty your resources are, you just can’t seem to get even a single seed to shoot up. Try harder, for in trying again you get another chance to iron things out. But if it already takes too much of your time and you see that things might just go up in smoke, then it is probably high time that you grew a totally different set of seeds. Growing flowers may not exactly be your strongest suit but you can take comfort in the fact that there are plenty of other seeds you can successfully grow.
Death of a loved one, death of a lifelong dream, or death of a relationship—all kinds of deaths may give birth to a new life. Plants, like people, will surely cease to exist, sooner or later. But this doesn’t mean that the life they have lived will shamelessly be put to waste. The death of one plant will surely breathe life into another beautiful creation worthy of a space in this world.
18. Following up on point #17, dirt is a part of life.
Have you ever encountered a gardener who has never in his life had his hands all soiled up? At some point in his life, he’ll be sure to know that the dirt in his fingers, the smell of the sun on his clothes, or the blisters on his skin make for a more treasured yield.
19. Opening up yourself to other people is important.
Plants never grow alone. If one plant does so, then it’s probably stuck in an isolated place or worse, a desert, and that sucks. Plants systemically coexist with other plants to form a diverse ecosystem. They don’t do things all by themselves. They have birds and bees to help them reproduce. They commingle with other animals to maintain the balance in their environment. They are not afraid to interact with other creatures in their surroundings as this is a basic rule they always need to put into practice. No man, with all his might and power, can survive in the absence of people he can share his life with, or those he can lean on whenever he feels like giving up.
20. Plants are never judgmental.
Because obviously, they don’t talk. But while you find that a tad bit shallow, it is interesting to note how plants struggle through life without having to put other plants down. Doesn’t it feel good to have something around that doesn’t talk back, examine you from head to toe, and judge you solely on the colour of your eyes or the pair of jeans you chose to wear to your prom? It feels divine.
21. Everyone has their own interpretation of happiness.
There are many kinds of plants in the world but one cannot generalise how each of them is grown. Some plants love it in the shade. Others eagerly turn to face the sun. And this doesn’t make one plant head and shoulders above the other. Comparing yourself to other people is tantamount to discriminating against your shot at being genuinely happy. Stop wasting your time poring over what others are doing or how great they claim to be. Plant your own seed of happiness and let it grow within you.