The Gardener's Tale

My job is to plant the seed and water the flower, not to grow it. Only the flower can grow the flower. Only the seed itself contains the complete potential of the flower; only the seed understands what that flower will actually be. It is not my job to know nor determine, only to give my attention steadily and trust what occurs underground, where everything begins. We must choose deliberately which patch of earth to cultivate. Life will flourish everywhere, though environment affects the shape the life will take, whether a cactus or a dandelion. Comparing preferences renders them meaningless, a war of apples and oranges, and yet when obeyed privately the meaning of life’s ceaseless nudging is revealed as you discover the perfect mix of shade and sun for the seeds you’ve so long been carrying in your pocket.

You can get used to having those seeds in your pocket, even believing they were meant to stay there. But they must be surrendered to the earth. This is an unspectacular beginning. No pop of the champagne bottle here, merely laying what might as well be a bone interred for all the inactivity. How easily you are reminded of death as you create life; how easy as you bury life to begin imagining its expiration as your poor, weak eyes can perceive no movement.

And how futile can seem the watering of tilled earth. This water could be more useful elsewhere, could feed a thirsty, growing world, rather than turn a patch of dirt to mud. The garden’s true engine is as beyond the mind’s comprehension as the planted seed is beyond the eye’s perception. But growth occurs all the same, often while we sleep. We awaken one morning to green and yellow and red, and are left to wonder exactly what part we played, and soon enough to dream of other gardens, whose seeds we pull from those new blossoms.


Write Within Yourself: An Author's Companion. "A book to keep nearby whenever your writer's spirit needs feeding." Deb Caletti.

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