Rooms 433-443: Spring: Make Something Grow
Somewhere out there at a nursery near me, tucked away between the azaleas and zinias, there is a happy, unsuspecting plant that is waiting to be brought back to my house where, if history repeats itself, it will inevitably die a slow, thirsty death of neglect.
I wish I could tell that little plant to hide, but I can’t. I’m coming and nothing can stop me.
I am a serial plant killer. I start with the best of intentions, but deep down I am the Dexter of the horticultural world, mercilessly sucking the oxygen out of every leaf I touch.
It started 25 years ago when I found a recipe for herb burgers. And while I was neither a cook nor a gardener, I decided that I would grow my own herbs for those burgers. I spent 150 dollars and months of my life for two well done burgers, which my wife ended up drowning in mustard. The plants died alone two weeks later.
Since then I have gone on to kill roses, daisies, geraniums, marigolds, and entire lawns. Even weeds have died under my watch. My backyard is a cemetery of pots and planters that serve as a reminder that I am a man who lets things die.
But, today that ends. I am going to make something grow if it kills me. And I hope you’ll grab your gloves and shovel and join me.
Rooms 433-443: Spring: Make Something Grow
My wife isn’t happy about this room, and it’s not just the “killing of plants” she objects to, but that it costs so much money to do it. I can’t just buy a plant, I have to come home with glow in the dark gardening gloves or a temperature controlled watering can. I’m a plant assassin with a lust for gadgetry.
But, this time around I’m going old school—nothing but the plant and the potting soil. And, as I told my wife, this isn’t just about the plant. It’s about proving that we don’t have to be what we always were. It’s about nurturing, growing, and bringing dead dreams back to life. My wife rolled her eyes, then bet our son ten bucks that my plant would be dead by summer. She was half-kidding.
Truth is, it’s easy for us to get locked into believing our limitations. We tell ourselves: I can’t cook, fix things, draw, or sing…or I’m horrible around computers, with animals, numbers, children, or gardening. The more we say it, the more we program ourselves into believing it, until it becomes truth that we accept for the rest of our lives.
Go ahead, dig deep. You’ll find yours. We all have them.
And while we can’t be experts at everything, and we certainly have to choose what interests we’ll pursue in our lives, we should realize that there are plenty of times when we don’t choose at all. We accept, resign or surrender to who we’ve told ourselves we are.
But, it doesn’t have to be that way.
We can start fresh, replant, and make something grow wherever we choose, which is exactly what this room is all about.
We’ll do this literally and metaphorically.
Here’s how we’ll start.
1. Buy a plant. Indoor. Outdoor. Potted. Planted. Tree. Bush. Cactus. It doesn’t matter. If you have to wait a few weeks to find it, wait a few weeks. What matters is that you choose the perfect plant for you and where you live. Make it something you love. Let the plant speak to you, which makes the act of growing a two-way street.
2. Now, find something you don’t think you can do, something you’ve told yourself for years you’re not good at, but wish you were. Something you’ve never allowed yourself the time or space to try. It could be gardening, painting, cooking, writing, or public speaking. It could be taking up a musical instrument, magic, a foreign language, or a new career. It could be a thousand different things. Take your time and really think about it. It’s more than an untapped interest, it’s a buried dream that you’ve never let blossom. Once you have your dream, write it down on a piece of paper, put it in a baggie, and bury it with your plant.
Let’s call this your 999 Rooms Plant.
On the one hand, this plant is simply a gift of beauty you’ll consciously add to your life. But, it will also be a symbol of a new part of yourself that you want to explore, a declaration that you can make anything grow, even where nothing has grown before.
But please, whatever you do, don’t wait a second longer to start. There is an old Chinese proverb that says, “The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now.” Unfortunately, most people only read the first sentence, choosing to believe it’s always “too late.”
Screw that nonsense.
If you want to take up pottery, start writing a play, become a Pilates instructor, learn to play the mandolin—get down on the ground, get your hands dirty and plant your dream. You don’t need youth, money, or time, anymore than you need permission or proof that you can do it. You don’t need to make money off it, be good at it, or have people applaud you for your efforts. You just need to plant the seed and let your dream unfold the way it was meant to unfold, for however long it was meant to unfold.
To do otherwise is to deny your creative spirit. It’s to refuse joy. Call it black magic.
So, go ahead and choose something. You know there’s something you’ve been aching to do. And if not now, when?
And once you have your dream planted firmly in your plant, do everything in your power to nurture them both to life. Each is a symbol of the other. That means the right amount of water, proper sun, fertilizing, and pruning. It also means knowing every leaf and flower on its stem. It’s about attention to the details, care, love, and a healthy respect for the miracle that comes when you nurture something with the right intention.
No automatic sprinklers. No magical Miracle Grow. Just watch your plant/dream closely and then do something every day to feed it. A few drops of water for your plant, ten minutes for your dream. Just do one tiny thing to bring that stubborn dream to the surface. Buy a book, take a course, draw up some plans, seek out advice, get supplies. Next week, add another element.
Remember, time is irrelevant. Progress is immaterial. Consistency is everything.
Don’t deny it, apologize for it, or justify it to anyone. And like any gardener worth his salt will tell you, enjoy the process and be patient with it, less it become a chore or a competition. Do it purely as an expression of your creative self.
The plant is the perfect metaphor for a spiritual life. Like a plant needs water, our inner world dreams need action. Without it, they’ll both wither and die. And I speak from experience, as a guy who used to believe that plants needed only one thing…to be bought.
But, I’m not the same guy as I was with that herb garden years ago. And neither are you. Or maybe, more accurately, we don’t have to be. We can grow anything we want. And there’s nothing more important to grow than a dream that has been buried for too long. There's nothing more miraculous than a seed that wants to become a root, sprouting through the earth with a stem that reaches upward until it becomes the blooming flower it was meant to be.
Go ahead, do a little watering…make something grow.
This is your 999 Rooms plant and it can be anything you want.
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