At the beginning of lockdown, with time on my hands, I dug out a plot in the garden to plant vegetables. Before I could get on with actually growing anything, I spent four weeks clearing out boulders.
I loved the physical challenge of digging every day, but getting on with the task of gardening felt like a bit of an obstacle. The idea of harvesting fresh, healthy vegetables in a few months’ time, was definitely appealing, but for me, not an easy thing to achieve.
This isn’t anything new. Up to this point, Karen and I have dipped our toes in the water with gardening, rather than plunging right in. And that’s in spite of being avid viewers of Gardener’s World!
I can’t speak for Karen, but for me, the problem has been the fear of failure. It’s obvious: if I plant something and it doesn’t grow, that means I’ve failed, right?
Well, actually, no, it doesn’t.
Recently, I’ve started reframing the gardening experience. Instead of focusing on what’s gone wrong, I try to ask myself what I’ve learned so that I can do better next time.
I’ve adopted what Carol Dweck calls a growth mindset.
One outcome from this is that I’ve learned not to beat myself up over having planted far too many potato plants, which are now taking over the whole patch.
I’ve also learned not to give myself a hard time over the fact that although my kale and beetroot seeds burst briefly into life early on, they stubbornly refused to grow any higher than an inch or so after that.
What I’d needed to do was not plant so many potatoes (see above). That way, my tiny beetroot and kale seedlings would have had space to breathe.
Another thing I now understand is that I should have cut away the tree branches that were shading out that part of the plot to allow the sunlight to get through.
Like people, there are essential ingredients that plants need to thrive, and one of these is sunlight. It’s basic primary school science.
With gardening, and with life in general, however, I’m trying to take things as they come, mistakes and all. I’m in my flow, being carried along with the current and surfing the waves. I’m letting my creative energy guide me rather than being stifled by how my brain thinks things ‘should’ or ‘ought to’ be. Well, most of the time, anyway 😊
And that’s something else I’ve learned – that doing something because we feel we should, must, or ought to is actually the opposite of being in flow.
That doesn’t mean don’t plan. What it does mean is doing everything you can to prepare, then letting go of the outcome and taking things as they come. You’ll encounter challenges along the way, of course, but that’s better than avoiding doing something altogether.
If we’re not careful, we can keep putting things off for years, sometimes until it’s too late.
The rewards from just jumping in and getting on with it, from allowing yourself to become fully absorbed in the process, are huge. You’ll have a great time because you won’t be constantly worrying about being perfect.
More likely, you’ll be like the plane on autopilot, frequently making adjustments as you encounter turbulence or veer slightly off course. That’s a great place to be. Going with the flow means growing with the flow, and personal growth is something most of us want.
Sometimes achieving that growth is easier if you prepare well, then give up on the struggle.