Autumn is upon us. The leaves are changing colour and falling from the trees; gardens need to be pruned, and all of the remnants of summer are packed away for another year.
One of my favourite tasks this time of year is to plant bulbs. I plant tulips in my front garden, but most satisfying for me is planting garlic in my veggie garden. There is nothing like fresh garlic and, even though I have to wait 10 months, it is worth it.
I get this counter-intuitive sense that planting something, just before the Canadian winter arrives, feels wrong.
Sowing a seed in the earth and allowing the alchemy of Nature to do its thing, even through these harshest of conditions, seems a mystery, and a miracle. But I do my part – all I can do for now – and I have to wait until springtime, when I am required to play my part again.
Working in my garden got me thinking about waiting for the seeds to grow, and how this can be a metaphor for other areas of our lives.
What seeds are we planting?
Are they good for us, or bad for us?
Do we have the patience required during the down time, especially when it seems like nothing is happening?
Unfortunately, we live in a world addicted to instant gratification, and waiting has become an anathema to many of us. The “I want it now” attitude, the click of the mouse to order things online, the advertisements for credit cards – all feed this addiction. The insatiable quest for fulfillment, combined with impatience, leads to a never-ending cycle of need and feed.
People, who only live for today, do not think about the seeds they are planting, which will sprout sometime in the future (i.e. credit card debt, bankruptcy, the underlying issues that “retail therapy” don’t actually deal with, etc.).
At times, I see this need for instant gratification in my therapy room. Clients will come with an issue, or a pattern, that they have struggled with for years. By session four they start to wonder if therapy works because they are not seeing any results. Their need for instant gratification demands that they get what they want, as soon as they want it. At this point, I bring in the garden metaphor and talk about waiting for the seeds to grow. Some get it. Some don’t.
I wrote, in a previous post, about giving up too soon from a fear of failure, but impatience for results is another way we can give up, or sabotage ourselves. We don’t allow the time, necessary, for our ideas, dreams, or goals to come to fruition. Impatience can lead to frustration, and waiting becomes impossible.
I am not stating that it is easy to wait.
I went through this frustration myself when I decided to move back to Canada. It took me 10 years, from the time I planted the seed in my mind until I physically arrived back. I could have left straight away, and if I was caught up in instant gratification, I would have. But, I took the time to plan and figure out how to do it, in the best way possible. I got my Master’s Degree, I applied for immigration, and there were long periods of waiting. I knew I had done all that I could do, and I got on with my life.
I learned some very good habits by going through this process – planning out how to achieve my goal, doing all that I could do and then letting go, and building on the life I had just in case it wasn’t going to work out. The biggest lesson of all was developing the habit of patience – being able to wait, and allowing the process to happen.
Now, I feel a deep sense of satisfaction, and fulfillment, when I see the sprouts (of any of my seeds) starting to grow and all of my hard work has paid off. There is a sense of achievement, a joy and a connection to something bigger – Nature, Life, a journey, and a process.
All of this is possible with patience and hard work.