Reaping Reality

I am a perpetual optimist, a forever dreamer.  Who looks at a barren front yard of an apartment building and thinks, “That could be a thriving organic oasis of a community-style garden, and while I’m at it, let’s turn the whole thing into non-profit and raise money to repeat this around the world.  Let’s hold classes, give lectures, host TEA parties and partner with UCLA, USC and Santa Monica College, in between running a business and raising an 11-year-old.”

Apparently I do.

And even though it’s hard sometimes, this life I’ve created is happiest and most fulfilling I’ve ever experienced.  I’d say I owe a deep part of this tangible drive to something completely non-tangible: my very thick rose colored glasses – ie, optimism.  Since I was very young, I’ve tended to see things as I want them to be, rather then, perhaps as they are.  This came as a coping mechanism to some of the things going on around me as a child; it was a sort of inner escape route.  That escape route has served me well over the past four decades, because where others see a dead end, I often see a “welcome” sign. 

I suppose I’m learning when to keep the glasses on, and when to take them off, both in and out of the garden.  For better or worse, I always see the best in a person, situation or circumstance.  I see potential, what I believe it could be, rather then, perhaps, what it really is.  I’m not speaking about anyone or anything in particular, just noticing how sometimes your strength is also your weakness.  Those glasses help me have vision, but sometimes prevent me from really seeing.

When I have a lesson to learn, I always turn back to the garden.  In the garden, everything is reality.  A weed is not a David Austin Rose.  Poor soil is not an illusion.  Aphids covering your brassicas are not confetti.  The garden teaches me to see things as they are – today – regardless of how I imagine they could be.

I like this duality, this dance.  It reminds me that while “anything may be possible,” I also need to work with things as they are.  For an ever-optimist (and someone who is extremely impatient), there is both acceptance and disappointment in this.  I want things be farther along then they are.  I want the garden to be more ready, or a person or circumstance to be more ready, but what I really need is (at least sometimes) to be more in reality.

I’m not sure what all this means or how it’s all meant to turn out (that’s the fun of a garden – you can plan all you want, but in the end it’s really out of our hands).  I suppose it’s about always remembering to embrace and enjoy the journey, knowing there’s never anywhere to really ‘go.’  It’s all just one big cycle.  Soil, seed, sprout, harvest, compost….and back into the soil again.  Just like us, just like the garden.  It’s a quick trip, this life, enjoy it while you can.

Happy Planting.

Jill Volat