As I wrote here, I turned 50 in May. Reaching this milestone has caused me to do a lot of reflecting on my life, and about what I have learned in my half-century of living – and I shared a few of these lessons with Care2 readers.
Shortly before that, I also wrote about some lessons that I have learned from my garden. including the fact that we cannot control everything, and that there is beauty all around us if we just take the time to look.
It seems I am still reflecting because when I sat down to write my post for this week, a few more of these lessons came to me. As I wrote before, I continue to learn some valuable life lessons from my garden.
One of these lessons is that people, like plants, need good companionship. Most gardeners know that one of the best ways to help certain plants thrive is by planting a compatible, or, “companion plant” nearby to attract beneficial bugs, to provide shade, or for other reasons. But there are some plants that are simply incompatible, they don’t do well next to each other, and in extreme cases, can actually cause the other plant to die.
The same is true of people, whether they are family, friends, or more importantly, a significant other. Compatible people bring out the best in us, make us want to do better, they bring us happiness, and make us want to bring them happiness.
Conversely, there are incompatible people whose presence in our lives can stunt our growth and suffocate us. Or, at the very least, can make us unhappy much of the time. These people do not add any value to our lives, instead creating drama and conflict, and usually end up making us feel bad about ourselves.
Another lesson related to this is that things need consistent care. One of the best ways to ensure failure in your garden is to provide it with inconsistent or non-existent care. How so? Give it lots of attention at first, and then ignore it for weeks at a time, like watering it deeply and then waiting for it to completely dry out before you water again.
This is even truer in our relationships. If you come and go, if you are physically there but not “present,” or, if all you do is criticize, correct, or find fault with a partner, you are virtually guaranteeing that it too, will fail.
One of the hardest lessons to learn is to know when to give up, or, when to let something go. It has been fairly easy to learn this about my garden. I live near the ocean, and I know there are simply some things that just won’t do well here; they won’t get enough warmth and enough sun, and I have come to accept that. So, I plant the things that I know will do better, and am always looking to add these to my garden, instead of wishing that something that can never grow here will miraculously do so.
This doesn’t seem to be that easy to do in the rest of our lives. We often hold tightly to the dream of having a certain relationship or partner, our “dream” job, or something else that is clearly not meant to be and that may not even be good for us, and that actually prevents us from seeing what we do have and appreciating all that is good in our lives.