On letting things grow

Last week I dug up the garlic, pulled up the peas and hung up the last pods to dry for seed, harvested more calendula petals and lavender for infusing in oil, picked more gooseberries for jam. My gardening tends to the wild side. Laissez-faire gardening. I’m in awe of the abundance and resilience of the plants that arrive unexpectedly. I’m in awe of LIFE, how it thrives without any tending from me. I wonder about the purpose of each plant, its particular niche. I try to find a use for whatever I can. I let them grow, and grow. And then I become overwhelmed and start pulling things up by the handful, as I did last week. Sometimes, in my sudden desire for order, plants that I originally planted and tended get pulled out too.

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I envy friends with weed-free gardens. I also envy those who know how to keep their lives simple, who know exactly what their priorities are from beginning to end. In my own life, I see a pattern of enthusiastically embracing of what’s growing, then becoming overwhelmed and a little crazed and pulling things out right and left. It’s not ideal. I need to check in with my garden, and with myself, earlier. I’m getting better at this. But when I look at my life and think hard about what to nourish and what to weed out, it’s not always obvious. I am always curious about what is growing unexpectedly, between the rows. I want to see what develops.

I don’t know if I believe in a perfect balance. I admire those who know how to sequence: first I’ll focus on this, and then later this. I have done this at times. I also see that now, for myself, i want everything, all at once. I want to pursue my own projects; I want to throw myself into community and deep relationships; I want to learn; I want to do the subsistence work and the emotional work and the intellectual work; I want to find a way to develop my gifts – such as they may be – and bring them out into the world. I want to watch with curiosity what is developing between the rows.

I’ve questioned and considered what’s important in my life; none of this is here by default. I’m going to be forty next year; there is so much I want to be doing right now. But I also want to homeschool my kids – because I’m so in love with this way of learning and living – and that often becomes the last priority, in terms of planning. It’s not ideal.

But if I can allow myself to embrace all of this, the mess and abundance of it, the LIFE in it all, then I can also find the peace and stillness underneath, the rightness of it for me. This is where I am. Messy and alive. Curious about what’s growing. And always a bit overwhelmed.

5 thoughts on “On letting things grow

  1. I’ve always considered myself an “exuberant” gardener myself. And I miss my garden. Apparently I need a yard. (Things I’ve learnt).

  2. This post captures so much of what I have been feeling this past year (forty is now upon me). I have often found myself exhausted by the unexpected amount of inner and outer weeding that has accompanied this time. I appreciate your eloquent words, Malgosia.

  3. I’m more of a hysterical gardener as in other things. Less holistic and more manic. As my children grow and I see their need to see someone formulate a plan and then dive in, I am trying that approach. Beautiful words, Malgosia.

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