I have always been mesmerized by plants. Some of my earliest childhood memories in Mexico are of me and my friends climbing a huge old tree close to my house. I used to love to just sit there under its shade and enjoy the cool breeze. I remember the visits to my grandma’s house...she had a pomegranate tree in her backyard and would always give me one when they were ripe. I would always stain my shirt trying to eat its red juicy grains, ruining the cloth and annoying my mom (the good ol'days).
Mi abuelita also had the most beautiful garden; filled with orchids of different colors, daisies, pink and red roses (to name a few) and even herbs like chamomile and peppermint for tees. Looking back that might've been where my love for plants began…
Every time that I visit a new place for the first time I’m immediately drawn to its landscape. Its own unique characteristics and the similarities that it has to other places that I’ve visited. Since I live in North Carolina I’m super in love with trees (Fall season in NC is the best, just saying) and so I always pay attention to how trees differ in different areas of the world.
All this gazing, plus my knowledge in social psychology, eventually made something very apparent to me; That our social laws can sometimes be a mirror of the laws in nature. Let me explain... I have noticed that during the spring there are some trees that bloom earlier than others. Every tree blooms at it own pace but eventually they all start to leaf out. I believe the same is true in humans; some people mature faster than others, some find their passion in life and others have extremely good work ethic. Nevertheless we all have the same potential to accomplish good things, regardless of the pace that we do it in…
I wrote down I few more examples of the things that I have noticed over the years of my relationship with plants. Yes I call it relationship because I have found that it takes getting to know a plant to take care of a plant. They need some tender loving care, just like us humans do... Hope you enjoy!
Lesson 1: There comes a time when we must let go of the old to make way for the new
I bought a baby snake plant about a year ago. It was one of the first plants that I’ve ever owned and so I had no idea how to take care of it. Apparently its not just about giving them water (who knew right?) you have to know when and how often to water them and how much sun they like etc etc. This particular snake plant was just a baby and consisted of just a thick green stem, about a foot in size, with only one big green leaf that had white stripes. Soon its one leaf had started to wither due to my improper feeding of water. This actually helped me realize something was wrong with how much water I was feeding it and after doing some research my plant started to bloom! Many more leaves began to sprung and it's now a blooming plant. However, one thing that I started to notice is that the original leaf, the one that got a little damaged, never repaired itself and eventually fell off... I realized it had to get rid of the old in order to make way for the new.
Thinking about it something similar happens to us in our lives over and over; There comes a time that we must let go of an old habit or old relationship (sometimes it might even an old job) that is having a negative effect in our lives, in order for us to keep evolving in life. We must do so in order to keep growing healthy and strong (and looking good as well). I know its way easier said than done, I struggle with this myself. However just like with the little damaged leaf, that old bad habit or bad relationship will most likely never stop being unhealthy. One way or another it will eventually have to fall off. There are just some things that cannot be repaired or improved and they have to be taken out of our lives completely. Sometimes we like to trick ourselves into thinking that things can change or that we can handle the negative effects of a particular bad habit/relationship/job is having in our lives. But just like the quote says “soon we must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy”.
Lesson 2: Be gentle with yourself and practice self-care; especially during periods of transition
One thing that I've learned about plants the hard way is that while plants can be very resilient, they are also extremely fragile. Especially when the seasons are changing or when they begin to leaf out. You barely touch them and their leaves fall off or their flowers fall apart. It's especially hard for most plants during winter season, if you’re not careful they could just die on you without warning!
I have come to realize that the same is true in me, especially during challenging times. I believe that when we begin to go through a period of transition and of constant stress our level of performance (how well we manage ourselves and our time) will take a toll until we learn to adjust to the situation. It takes time and hard work (and some tears) to adjust to a transition that's affecting our lives in a negative way. Everything that we know about our lives suddenly gets thrown upside down. What we're familiar with gets thrown out the window. Control goes out the window. Sometimes to be replaced with fear and confusion as to what steps to take next. So until we get a grip of the new situation our bodies and our minds will be on edge. Hence all of the times that we get irritated over little things or when we get emotional over simple things. When we go through periods of transition we become more sensitive and its essential to remember to be gentle with ourselves. To take things slow. Every bad transition will pass and what we consider our best will vary from time to time. It is especially during these hard times that we find out just how strong and resourceful we truly are.
Because of this we must show compassion and kindness toward ourselves especially when we don’t act as good as we think we should, or when we don't perform as good, or when we keep making the same mistakes. It is during these times that we have to take care of ourselves with even more diligence in order to manage the situation better.
Lesson 3: Be patient with the pace of your own personal growth
Trees have a lot to teach about patience. At first they're just but a tiny seed and it takes them many years before they even reach an appropiate height. On top of that they also go through the changes of seasons in which they evolve and tranform alongside other trees and vegetation. When I was a student at NC State I used to live in a small white two-bedroom apartment near campus. To get to the entrance of my apartment I had to walk through a pathway that had many trees growing around it. I loved that little area because most of the trees were of the same type and so they would change seasons together. What I started to notice is that during the spring some of the trees would start to leaf out or bloom way faster than others, even though they were the same type of tree. However, the ones that were not blooming as fast would eventually caught on and they would continue to look beautiful all throught the the summer . It served me as a constant reminder that even if things don't look as good in the beggining it doesnt mean that they can't turn around for the better in the future. It was a constant comfort for me to know that everybody has their own unique journey and that the pace in which we go through it is only between God and us.
I've noticed that the only thing that trees have to do in order to leaf out is to focus on getting their own needs taken care of. For example; getting the necessary water and sun and keeping the bugs from causing them harm. I imagine that trees are not worried about how fast or how slow the neighbor tree is blooming. That they are patient about their personal growth because they know that they will begin to sprout at the right time. In other words; refraining from constatly judging the pace of our own journey, drinking our water, getting some sun and getting rid of those "bugs" in our lives that are causing us harm is essential for personal growth.
It is important to be patient with our own personal growth and with the pace in which we're achieving our goals. However, constantly judging how well we're doing in life based on how others are doing can make it very hard for us to be patient. The same can be applied to when we judge our best when we’re healthy and stress free than when we have health issues and have constant stress. As mentioned on Lesson 2; when we go through periods of transition our level of performace takes a toll and thus our best will look different than when everything was stable in our lives. This is not to say that we don't need healthy competition and relationships that challenge us. That is also neccessary for personal growth. I'm mostly referring to that constant comparison of the success in our lives vs other people's success based on what we see on social media. Having constant access to the lives of most people in the world, especially to the lives of famous rich people, can make it seem like our normal lives are inadequate. This can be very discouraging especially when we are going through a challenging time in our lives and we are barely keeping it together. That's why it is important to remember that social media can only show a very small aspect of a person’s life. How we live our day-to-day life and how we treat ourselves and the people around us is what really counts. If you're going through a challenging time in your life don't loose hope. We are stronger than what we think we are and we're meant to bloom and give much good fruit...Keep growing, keeping shining and may God bless your journey!
Out of the huts of history's shame
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide, Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear I rise
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear I rise
Maya Angelou "Still I Rise"
Thank you for taking the time to read this post! I hope that you enjoyed this reading. Please leave a comment below with your thoughts about this post and If you liked what you read please share! Link to share is down below. I will try my best to practice these lessons myself (I know I have much to do in the letting-go-of-bad-habits department haha). In summary, I think that if we pay close attention to our surroundings we'll find that plants (and nature for that matter) can be a great source of wisdom and inspiration for our lives. As always I appreciate all of your support...Hasta la proxima amigas!