Thursday, November 27, 2014

Cultivating a Garden

So I ran across a quote from the end of Candide today - "We must cultivate our own garden". While the rest of the blog was about guarding against the unproductivity of unbridled optimism (and the concomitant self deception that accompanies it), it touched on a topic near and dear to my heart right now - failure. I am teaching myself to play banjo. It is a painful process. I love learning language, even with the pain and embarassment of getting it wrong. I am in a new job, and I gloriously suck at it. Because I am learning.
Maybe pure optimism isn't an optimal feeling. Maybe 'hope for the best, prepare for the worst' is a great summation of the motto that should be used instead. But I like the idea of each step in the learning process being seen as a process of weeding. Tending the garden. Encouraging the plants I like, discouraging those that I don't.
And there might be short cuts. Spray everything with toxins. Use massive industrial machines. Keep chickens and pigs and cows in boxes where they are fed chemicals and recycled chicken parts.
But the real value gets added at that moment when you realize you have been using the word in Russian wrong, and you laugh with your new friend about it.
When you hit that banjo lick right for the first time, and then try it ten times more.
When you watch the radishes come up, thinning out the ones that make the density too high. Fertilizing, mulching, weeding. Watching the pepper plants go from small to large.  Blooming, putting out peppers, turning from green to yellow.  Then making my pico de gallo.

Watching the cotton grow, pink flowers, then boll. Eating my own sunflower seeds.  Popping the popcorn that grew in my garden.

Playing my banjo, even when I'd rather be watching tv.

Cultivating our own garden, just maybe, is the only thing that is worth our time.

No short cuts.

1 comment:

aunt Patty said...

You are brilliant. But then you k ow that, right? Great essay and insight.