Monday, August 10, 2015

... and the wisdom to know the difference

I have always loved the Serenity Prayer. It is simple, to the point, and from the deepest places of the heart:
     God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
     Courage to change the things I can,
     And the wisdom to know the difference.

I pull from this prayer whenever I am up against a situation that challenges me to change the way I perceive it and find a better way to deal with it. A case in point is my long awaited chance to garden again. Twenty-three years ago, I found gardening, or, I should say, gardening found me, and it became my greatest teacher. When I had to leave it in order to be closer to where the jobs were, I grieved as if I had lost a best friend. For fifteen years I found ways to stay connected to the earth and the lessons that gardening taught me by learning to container garden. Even if all I had was a window sill, as long as I could put my hands in dirt and watch life unfolding before me, I continued to grow. Yet I never stopped yearning for my old garden. I remembered being out there in the early morning when the grass was still wet and the weeding went easier. I remembered listen to the good-morning music of the birds and the signal to the bees that it was time to get to work. In my mind, everything about it stayed the same. Alas, it may have been that way in my dreams, but in reality there was one thing that had changed greatly ... me, or, I should say, my body.

I have always been proud of the fact that I kept in relatively good shape for my age. I abused my body terribly in my youth but made great progress towards changing that as I hit my 50's. I dropped 62 pounds. I took up yoga. I leaned to meditate. I went to a gym. I make walking my basic mode of transportation. I started to eat healthier. I lived in a third-floor walk-up apartment and got more exercise carrying groceries and laundry up and down those stairs than I got on a treadmill at the gym. All that came in handy last summer when I sustained a fall on a cracked piece of street and fractured my upper leg/hip area, requiring three pins, and my shoulder as well. All that I had done to keep myself healthy helped me to recover my mobility much more quickly than I would have without it. Even the doctor and the physical therapists marveled that I was mobile so quickly. Mobile, yes. Able to do everything I did before, not really. In fact, some things are still too painful even after a year, One of those things is large-scale gardening.

So imagine finally getting your dream of the last 15 years fulfilled when a place opens up that has a garden you can play in, and finding out that one hour of weeding and planting knocks you off your game for days afterwards. This garden in sloped which puts more strain on the joints, and you realize that it's not just the area affected by the fall, but that while you've been praying for 15 years for a garden, and even though you hiked up and down those stairs all that time, you still got older, and arthritis found you anyway. So now you have to pull out that Serenity Prayer, and look those words in the face, and find the courage to change what you can while accepting what is. There is wisdom in accepting what you cannot change, because once you accept it, other possibilities have the room to grow... like all that wisdom you gained container gardening all of those years. Yes, you can grow lettuce and tomatoes in pots ... and I am. Yes, the herbs will like the outside shelving that holds all of the pots of basil, and lavender, and parsley, and mint ... and love. Yes, you can still go out early in the morning to pull the weeds you can reach without straining, and listen to the birds sing the day awake, and watch the bees go to work. It was never really about the garden. It was about me.

Another saying, probably my all-time favorite, and one I have used here on more than one occasion, is this one: Bloom where you're planted. So I have. That's something I have the courage, and the wisdom, to change

And so it is.