Spring weather has me thinking about gardening. I’ve been planting seeds for my garden since February, but it’s an ongoing process. There’s always something else to start. This week it’s transplanting the lettuce, kale, and cabbage that I’ve started indoors on the windowsill. Next, the beet and carrot seeds need to go in the ground.
As a metaphor for a creative life, planting a garden is a good one. Different types of seeds grow to become different plants. Some are useful as food, others for fuel, and still others for flowers (and the case could be made that flowers are food and therefore fuel for the bees…and so on).
It’s this way with the things I create. Bottles saved for crafting clutter the kitchen counter. Crafting tools take up boxes and shelves in my closet. Craft (and garden!) supply catalogs arrive in the mail and overflow my magazine basket in the living room. Each of these things sparks an idea. The idea becomes a plan, the plan becomes an action and the action becomes a product. Everything builds on something else.
My goal is to make sure the seeds I’m planting will grow into things I actually want in my life. I don’t want to plant seeds of things I dislike. A gardener who hates broccoli should plant something else instead. Why “plant the seeds” by applying for a shitty job that I know I’ll hate when there are plenty of tolerable if not good and interesting jobs out there?
As the seeds I’ve planted grow, they need care. Watering, weeding, staking, pruning. In life, especially a creative life, sometimes the weeding and pruning are the most important part. Weeds are distractions. Those things that I think I “must” do when the reality is I just need a little time spent in the creative zone.
Pruning removes the unhealthy branches and allows the remaining healthy plant to flourish. Last week I spent part of a morning clipping away the dead parts of the raspberry plants so the remaining plant can thrive. I’ve discovered over the past few weeks that there are areas of my life that require pruning. There are some things that just need to go to make time and mental space for me to participate in the things I love about life. Why cram my life full of stuff if that stuff is just distracting me from the greater reason why I’m here? I wholeheartedly believe that people weren’t meant to just suffer and struggle.
Once again I need to redirect my focus towards the things that make life great. I am a photographer and therefore I need to spend time creating, editing, and most of all, marketing my images. I need to refocus (pun intended) on the important things and make time to spend with my friends and – of course – in my garden. To do that, I need to prune away some of the dead parts of my life. Including people who waste my time and energy, pointless stress over things that can easily be changed (like that oil leak in my car), and time wasted in front of the TV.
Sometimes things are challenging. Working hard is a rewarding part of life. But right now I hate my job and it seems to be eating my life. This is not the way I want to live. Am I planting seeds? Hell yes. In the garden, and by applying for better and more interesting jobs (preferably without psychotic management-level employees). I’m planting the seeds for things to get better. I’m getting some long-delayed repairs done on my poor old car. And every chance I have I’m out with the camera doing the thing I love most – taking photos.
Seeds don’t grow overnight, but with the right amount of time and a little TLC they will develop into thriving plants. In my case, a better job, some investments, a car in good condition so I can head off into the Yukon at will, and a healthy portfolio.
The seeds are planted. Now, to help them grow.