There's this squirrel that keeps eating my succulents in the patio. I didn't think it was a big deal until half my plants' leaves were gone because of a hungry critter. I was very upset. These plants were important because of all the memories they hold, and the people I think of when I garden.
When I found these Black Rose Aeonium barren, I was disheartened. It took months to have them root, and settle with the wind. It didn't make sense for me to be so upset at a squirrel, so I took time to reflect. This is what Black Rose Aeonium is "supposed" to look like.
Gardening is a wonderful activity to heal, and reconnect with the earth. It is also the best metaphor I can think of for how we humans develop, heal, and grow.
Plants are amazingly resilient. They can thrive in the harshest conditions: freezing temperatures, arctic winds, scorching heat, and predatory creatures attempting to steal their lives. There are plants that thrive in cracks in the concrete to yield gorgeous flowers. There are majestic trees whose roots break asphalt, or wrap around hundreds of years' worth of historic architecture. Somehow, they find a way.
It isn't always easy, no. Yet somehow, they find a way.
Some plants get lucky. They are sown in beautiful greenhouses with regulated temperatures, have perfect nutrition in the soil, enough sun, and enough water to thrive and blossom quickly. They are also intentionally and safely pruned by experts. Other plants? Not as lucky. They have to fight to live. These plants are the ones being chopped at the side of the road, eaten by squirrels, attacked by infections, and barely have enough water to maintain. These plants toughen up over time, and can learn to use the resources they have. It does take time, and the odds are stacked highly against their survival.
Many of us are as resilient as these plants; even more so. Do you know why? (Let me tell you why)
We are even more resilient because: we can choose to find a new environment. We can choose to ask for help. We can choose to be vulnerable, get hurt by others, and try again. We can pack our things, and move to an environment that can support our healing and growth. We don't have to stay in an environment that hurts us. We can also adapt very quickly to what we're given.
Does this mean changing everything we've ever known from our pasts to heal and grow? No, not always. It means that as humans, we can adopt new tools, and little by little, we can heal while the scars remind us where we came from. These succulents, after having their leaves eaten or torn off, will never look like their "perfect" counterparts. But, they don't have to look pristine to have beauty. Their struggle and unique growth are meaningful, and they remind me to honor that in myself and others. We each have a story and environment that shapes us, and sometimes neglects to nurture us. Our individual growth and presence in the world varies, just like the lives of each plant. Sometimes they grow to encompass large areas of land, and blossom endless flowers to decorate the landscape. Sometimes a beautiful flower blossoms only once, which makes it genuinely rare when it does happen. Each flower and each person can offer unique beauty to this world, and that beauty carries meaning however it occurs.
Tend to your garden; there is an innate beauty only you can offer this world.