Monday, March 10, 2014

Embracing Our Imperfections

When I laid my head on the pillow last night, my mind was performing it's usual Sunday night ritual called "what will be the subject of my blog for tomorrow," since I usually post on a Monday. As I was falling asleep I had two or three ideas floating around in my head that I thought were pretty good. However, when I woke up this morning ... nothing. It's not that I forgot what they were (although that happens more often than I'd like to admit - note to self: pad and pencil on the night stand). It's just that by the light of day the ideas I thought were so good last night didn't measure up this morning.

So I did what I usually do and pulled up a blank screen, typed a word or phrase, and let it lead me where it wanted to go. Unfortunately, that was nowhere. Nothing. Zilch. Nada. As my old friends from Queens used to say when I was growing up, "I got nothing."

I hate when this happens. I pride myself on being able to sit down and write about almost anything given a few minutes to toss it around in my head. Not being able to come up with anything is like a personal failure. I feel the same way about gardening. Take starting seeds indoors, for example. I have been doing this for well over 20 years and inevitably one of those little squares will fail to send up even one shoot of green. Of course I take it personally.

I took a deep breath. I looked at the screen, and I wrote the following sentence: "I am not perfect and that's okay." Sometimes the greatest strides are made not in what we do, but in what we fail to do. There is no teacher or critic standing over me to chastise me because I came up empty. There is no master gardener who is going to point at my empty cells and call me a poor excuse for a gardener. Those voices belong to me. I can just as easily tell myself: "I love you just the way you are, imperfections and all, and something positive will come out of this."

As I sit here writing this, I suddenly remember a chat I was having online the other night with some ladies from all over the country who were discussing, among other things, the weather (what else is new this winter?) and one of them complained that she was having trouble starting her seedlings indoors. She said that the extended lack of natural light and the extremes in temperature from this endless winter were giving her grief. She'd never had to resort to grow lights before but she was ready to concede failure and purchase some. Sometimes we just have to be brave enough to say, "I don't know," and go outside our normal behavior to find the answer. It doesn't make us imperfect, or flawed. It just makes us human. Don't you just love it when it all finally makes sense?

And so it is.