Coming Out of Life
At the beginning of March this year, I was still planning to go to Hawaii in April, my calendar was booked quite fully two weeks ahead, and I was living one day at a time. Everything was regular, even though we started to see more people wearing facial masks in the street, coronavirus went from China to Italy to South Korea… And some cruise ships couldn’t find a port to dock.
As we approached the middle of the month, my event in Hawaii was suddenly cancelled, and 80% of my clients cancelled their appointments. Everything swept in fast. Like many people, I suddenly found myself staying home.
Reluctantly, but safely, I stayed home. My partner Tim said he was going to digitize his old travel journals and photos. Some friends told me they found new joy in baking or crafting. My journals from the days when I journaled were destroyed by my father years ago. With only Tim, a person not too into sweets, to share any baked goods I made, I didn’t make any, wanting to avoid adding more rings to my waistline. I have never really been interested in crafts, rather than a quickly come-and-gone interest in knitting back in university.
It was springtime, so I decided that I could dress up my balcony. I got some seeds for flowers, herbs, and vegetables. I got some pots. The stores sold out of soil, so I had to wait, while still working with some regular clients online. The whole gardening project stretched out to a few weeks.
In the start and return to my project, somehow, I got myself confused, as I found the seeds were mixed up.
They may be very different plants, but their seeds all look very similar.
It’s going to be a strange balcony garden, I thought. As I had to randomly plant random seeds to random pots.
Sunlight. Temperature. Water. Soil. I made sure I created the best environment that I could for them. And I was curious. What would grow? How would they grow? From which pot would grow what? I have never really done any gardening before. But I was not really working hard on it. There was time. It was not even like gambling, but more simple science.
To my delight, things did start to grow. There was that excitement to this green thumb newbie. I used Google lens to tell me what I had just grown. And then I googled the ways to care for them. There was too much information on Google. I needed the simplified versions. And I decided to just watch them. It became very easy to see if a plant is happy or not. I experimented with different locations on the balcony and received their feedback… until, when summer finally came (in Vancouver) towards the end of July, I could sit in my little balcony garden, working, reading, and dining.
It feels very good to be with my plants and little flowers. Often times, I silently communicate with them, sensing, feeling, acknowledging. I saw different things grow in one planter. The same pots, the same amount of sunlight and moisture, but very different plants.
In the communing, I found life lessons started to grow out of my garden plants. Facing the little lives in the pots, I thought when we are born, we say, “We come into this world”. Where do we actually come from, into this world? If I ask you this question, maybe you would imagine a heaven above, or a God source, or a spirit space for us to come from, into this world. From somewhere else into this planet Earth, and then we become a product of a culture – the social environment.
My seeds germinate, sprout, and blossom, all according to their coded blueprints. The environment has huge impact on their growth, but they are not a product of the environment, no matter how similar the seeds seem to be. They cannot grow into each other.
Some of my young clients become my inspiration. Their struggles lie in needing to be liked, to be respected, to be appreciated, to be shaped into anything to fit in. And then they are assumably safe. I say it’s a struggle because it cannot naturally happen, like a tomato seed cannot grow into lettuce, obviously, but we are humans, and – I’m chuckling when I write this: we can move mountains. And we can shape our identities.
Sitting in my garden, looking at my plants, I finally understood what it means to say, “Everything comes from within”. It has to. You can like me. You can dislike me. But you can only ever be my environment, from my perspective. But who I am fundamentally cannot be changed by any environment. I don’t come into life. I come out of life. As I blossom, I mature, I express life.
I breathe in the fragrance of my herbs and flowers. I planted them. Miracle grew them. And now I am grown by them. They are my teachers, as everyone and everything is my teacher.
Between two big rocks, there can be very limited soil, so limited that the eyes cannot see, but a tiny little flow can grow out of it. Life! Fragile but forever strong. Forever beautiful that’s who I am.