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Patience – A Skill Learned in the Garden

At a time when our entire world is running at an over-rated pace, patience is the one thing we all need to help keep things in proper perspective. 

by M. J. Joachim

Patience is an acquired skill, something that takes a lot of practice and persistence. It’s not something that happens willy-nilly, and few people if any are actually born with it. The fruits of patience are innumerable, though most people are too self-absorbed and egocentric to bother spending their lives developing the virtue of patience. It is a trait particularly frowned upon in this age of instant gratification and in-your-face mindsets. Perhaps that’s why I delight so much in my garden, which visually shows me the benefits of being patient every day. I learn so much about the world through the observation of my plants, as I watch them develop through cycles of undetermined status, only to reveal the most amazing hidden beauty from within. Take for example my recently transplanted artichoke plants.

When I purchased these two little starters, they were small and only time would tell if my proverbial thumb would turn green or purple in their presence. I placed them in rather large pots, watched a marigold bloom in the shadow of one’s leaves and soon found myself needing to transplant them to a larger plot of land. They didn’t like the transition at first, or so I thought. In fact, I worried that I might lose them altogether. Each day I checked them as I watered, reassuring myself that even though their leaves were seriously wilting, they were green enough to survive. Slowly, the top leaves perked up with daily doses of water and sun. The lower leaves turned yellow and I let them remain on the plants, for fear I might shock these little beauties once too often, had I decided to remove them.

The healthiest of my artichoke plants seemed to be fairing the worst. It truly appeared weighted and overwhelmed by the recent transplant. However, within weeks, the compost I use to nourish both plants was taking on a life of its own. A rather small squash or melon plant (too soon to tell yet, I’m afraid) grew its first true leaves and a rather unsuspecting potato plant decided this new plot of land was the best it had ever been planted in.

Nature works together, feeding off of itself, much like people do. My poorest of the two artichoke plants suddenly developed new life one day. To my great delight, it donned a tiny little artichoke, right in the center of its foliage. I’m eagerly waiting to claim my prize and eat the delicious specimen – patience from the garden at work again. However, now I’m a bit hesitant because directly below it, on the same stalk is another tiny little artichoke. All I could think was, no wonder the poor plant was wilting and struggling so…it was in the process of producing offspring, something that any mother knows takes an enormous amount of energy. The other artichoke plant remains healthy enough, but as of yet, no offspring.

As for that unsuspecting potato plant...well, it decided to grow very big and bloom. In fact, I do believe I’ll end up with quite a crop of potatoes from it. I’m a little taken aback by its willingness to overshadow my artichoke plant – the competition between the two seems fierce. My not-so-little anymore artichoke plant is standing tall, showcasing the first-born as if it were in a pageant or something. My potato plant is pushing it further back toward the wall, broadcasting more blooms every day. Well, as long as both plants remain healthy and productive, what do I care? No harm, no foul, if you ask me.

Right about now, you may be asking yourself what’s the real point of this article anyway? The reality is  people are a lot like individual plants in a garden. Many struggle daily to meet their needs, often depending on others to help them. Communities develop best when all people work together for the common good, not by sacrificing one person’s rights over another’s, but by allowing things to develop naturally, creating the interdependence and support system that will allow everyone to become strong in their own right – or move to a place where they can survive and thrive, which isn’t a threat to their very existence.

Patience is a human quality that is often underestimated. Time has a way of making natural adjustments in our lives, just like it does in the garden. Missing elements are compensated, healthy competition forces the issue, rest and brief declines promote a healthier more productive existence. Stepping back and allowing things to play out naturally, without always rushing in and fixing everything is a courtesy to the community. It provides an opportunity for unexpected gifts to announce themselves, and for new life to emerge. At a time when our entire world is running at such an over-rated pace, patience is the one thing we all need to help keep things in proper perspective. 

All photos used on this site are Public Domain unless otherwise credited.

©2011, 2012 All Rights Reserved Teresa DePoy

Photo Credit: Teresa DePoy © 2012 All Rights Reserved Teresa DePoy