My apartment is a disaster zone. Boxes and debris everywhere. It smells like how my brother’s room did in high school—sort of musty and over sweet. Amid all of the destruction was the one pot and this lone vegetable.
In February, when it started to get a bit warmer I decided to try my hand at sprouting seeds to plant in the garden box outside HUB BUB. I’m a novice gardener, just learned this year, and didn’t consider the fact that if I used a big pot like this (because it was all I had) I wouldn’t be able to keep track of what each seed was. This is a vegetable, I’m certain.
I planted all of the others: beets, mustard greens, around March but decided to leave this guy in because he was the smallest and I wasn’t quite ready to let go of all of them. I’ve been impressed by the way he thrived in the giant planter, all by himself. I was afraid that with all of my packing I was going to knock him over and it was time to move him to the garden.
I was so reluctant. Moving him to the garden meant that my time with this garden was about to end. I had vague designs of bringing him with me but I don’t have things planned out more than a few weeks at a time and knew that it wasn’t a good idea. This guy needed a permanent home. It wouldn’t do him any good (or me) to bring him wherever I went.
I had a lot of high symbolism for this guy too. Look! We’re being uprooted, me and you! Look! We are going to a new home. But as I made a place for him in the garden, where a brussel sprout plant used to live, and scooped him out of the planter with a spoon, cradling the spindly tentative roots in my hand, I felt very aware of our difference (a difference I’m experiencing for the very first time).
If you take a yoga class, you’ll hear a lot about roots. Root down through all four corners of the feet. Imagine there are roots extending down into the floor past your hands. Root to rise. I’ve been very good at rooting and unrooting—meaning I’m a good planner. I’ve always had a sort of Springsteen type urgency when it’s getting time to leave a place. I got to get out. I got to. And in step with that urgency I always had the next thing planned. Until now.
My idea of rootedness has changed.
The American Buddhist Nun, Pema Chodron, in her book “Comfortable with Uncertainty” (Thank you Rebecca!), writes:
We know that all is impermanent; we know that everything wears out. Although we can buy this truth intellectually, emotionally we have a deep rooted aversion to it. We want permanence; we expect permanence. Our natural tendency is to see security; we believe we can find it.
I have a vague plan. There’s only so much I can do to make it happen. I don’t know if I want to think of my roots as being deep unmoving things anymore. I don’t want to cling so much to something that I’m disappointed when the result wasn’t what I wanted or thought it would be.
This was supposed to be a reflection blog post. But we’ve done a lot of that throughout the residency: listing what we’ve accomplished, listing the way we’ve been involved in the community, and reminders can get annoying and tiring. This has been a place where action has mattered, was expected to the point that so many things were getting accomplished by all of us that some things understandably went unnoticed. Spartanburg has been one of the greatest teachers I’ve ever had and one of the more simple lessons I’m going to take away is this: Put all of your intention and love into it, and even when that’s over looked, keep it there. People noticing isn’t the point. Maintaining intention is. It wasn’t the lesson I expected to learn from such a community based position, but I think that was the point too. It’s another aspect of impermanence: I can’t convince anyone to remember me in a particular way. I can’t convince anyone to remember what I’ve done.
It’s hard to put down roots in a year. And yet I started a garden.
In those brief moments when I cradled the plant in my hands I felt the earth I had packed around it giving way. I was aware of the plant’s delicacy, and I swear (hippy dippy or not) I could feel its hesitation. “It’s okay,” I said to it as I put it down into the ground. “It’s going to be okay.”
So who knows where I’ll end up this year. I’m afraid, but I’m also happy. In the immediate future I can see Boone, and I can see Janie. Hopefully the northwest will be calling. It’s going to be okay.
A year ago I wouldn’t have admitted to being afraid. A year ago I would have told myself to simply stop being afraid. This year I learned to look at it. This year I learned so much. This year I’ve grown more than I ever remember growing.
So thank you HUB BUB, HCWP, and Spartanburg for this garden, for this time. For a year that will influence the way I navigate my life from now on.
And because I like to end on a sweeping note, and just in case you didn’t click on the Boss’s name above…