I was walking home through downtown this weekend and noticed a flower coming up in a crack alongside a building. I don’t know what kind of flower it is, but it was in full bloom, right there between the concrete and bricks. Now any of you who have every gardened know how amazing this is because sometimes, even with all the right circumstances, we can’t make this happen! We can till the soil and measure the pH. We can add just the right mixture of everything happy plants need. We can plant them gently and water them regularly but with no luck. Even if they don’t meet with disaster, like a bird or bug or blight of some kind, sometimes they just don’t grow. Sometimes they sprout, and grow a little but never bloom, never become all that they could have been, and there is no logical explanation for it.
Other times you can chuck a rotten tomato out your back door and sometime later find a beautiful unexpected tomato plant, ripe with deep red fruit, with absolutely no effort on your part at all. Or you might find a flower like I did; something so small but strong enough and determined enough to survive its journey and blossom in a little dry crack in the middle of the city, with no encouragement, no love, no tending by anyone.
Humans are the same way aren’t we? Yet, we get to decide if we are going to let the crap that life hands us bury us under, or if we will let it be the fertilizer that allows us to grow bigger and stronger than we ever could have without it.
One of the tag lines for my blog is “for women, and men, trying to figure it all out when nothing turned out like we figured” and you will notice that it is a recurring theme of mine. It is a common topic of conversation with most of the middle aged folks I know, trying to figure out how our lives turned out so very different than we had imagined! When we are young, we believe there are still so many years ahead. We still feel like we have all the time in the world to realize our dreams or change our plans. Then we hit middle age and we can see old age ahead, right there on the horizon. We know the time for reaching some of our dreams has come to a close.
I know it is too late for some of my dreams. It is too late to realize the dream of spending my golden years with the same man I raised my children with. It is too late to grow old with someone who shared my youth. I look at couples now, and envy those who married young and raised their children, or remarried and succeeded the next time at fulfilling that dream of a whole life spent with the person who knows you better than anyone else, the person who you have shared so many years and life experiences with, both good and bad. I plowed and planted and fertilized, and still, the bloom died. Sometimes there just isn’t a logical explanation for that.
Yet, it’s not too late for lots of other dreams. It’s not too late to love and be loved. It’s not too late to fill my life with people of substance. It’s not too late to earn my next college degree. It’s not too late to find that job that fulfills me; doing the things I love to do. Someone said to me, not long ago, that it’s too bad I never did anything with my writing when I was younger, to which I responded, it’s not too late! The fact that you are reading this right now is proof of that isn’t it!
Where has life thrown you, where are you planted? Are you living in a perfectly manicured, perfectly tended garden? Chances are, like most of us, your circumstances aren’t ideal. Even if you’ve done everything you were supposed to do, tended and watered your life according to plan, something unexpected usually happens. I’m sure you’ve had drought, and blight and pests and challenges you never imagined when you first started out, tilling the soil that would be your life. I’m sure you’ve also had unexpected surprises, beautiful seeds blown in from other gardens that you never expected or planned for but loved just the same. I know I have.
I try to see the lessons that life sends me, daily. You have to be careful sometimes not to miss them! Often, when I need to be reminded of something, or taught something new, the answer will show up in an unexpected place. Sometimes it shows up in the form of a little plant, doing the best it can and doing it beautifully. When this little plant found itself where it was, in these circumstances, I doubt it complained that life was unfair! No, it just did what it was born to do right where it landed. It grew and it blossomed, and it did it beautifully!
“Because you are defined not by life’s imperfect moments, but by your reaction to them.” Jenny Lawson