I love the way it sounds full of life when I open the windows at night. Crickets, all manner of chirping insect life, bullfrogs, wind, the light pitter patter of raindrops.
I dug yesterday. Dug a small rectangular patch of dirt in front of a window. I had to jump on the shovel to get it to go deep into the dirt; I can only imagine what it looked like to the people passing by in their cars – a small Asian woman hopping on a shovel, flipping dirt around the front yard.
We took out two shrubs and the owners before us (our friends) took out some bushes from that little patch. Grass and weeds were starting to take over the small clearing and when I got deep enough there were still roots from the bushes! And they were sprouting new branches, new leaves! Death to the old roots and their bushy branches and leaves!
It took over three hours to clear all the grass, roots, weeds, rocks. I decamped several large garden spiders (BLAH) and helped some earthworms reproduce along the way (by accidentally cutting them in half with my shovel). I was sweaty, hot, unaccustomed to even this short period of manual labor.
After digging I broke up the clay-heavy dirt clods with a hoe, and then began to smooth the dirt with a rake. I poured a big bag of peat moss over it all and worked that into the dirt too.
Three and a half hours of dirty work later, I was ready to do what I wanted to do – plant some flowers. My friend Kayla and I did that in less than 10 minutes by making little furrows, dropping the seeds in, covering it back up.
I dragged the hose out and gave the plant embryos a good soaking, and now all there is to do is wait. Keep the dirt moist and wait for the water, the sun, and time to break new life free from these hard little seed casings. The seed packet says stuff will start coming up in 5-14 days. Let us hope.
I think about all of the things that would prevent the seeds from coming up – heavy rain washing them away, maybe we planted them too deep and their little cotyledons won’t be able to push out of the soil. Maybe an animal will come dig or a bird will swoop from the sky and think we spent the afternoon making them an in-ground bird feeder and enjoy the all-you-can-stomach seed buffet.
But really, worrying about it is not going to help. I did the best I could to prepare the soil, dropped the seeds in according to the package instructions, and now I reconcile with faith that something, something will come up.
Isn’t life like that? You work so hard to plan and prepare and then you launch the seeds of your hopes and dreams and you wait for baited breath for them to spring up, to grow, to be bountiful and beautiful and useful and admired.
And sometimes because of one reason or another that can’t always be explained in plain human terms those hopes and dreams can fall flat and fail to break out of their shells and then we can be crushed because we were like parents tending to our little dream babies and they didn’t make it and sometimes we give up because if it failed this time why would it succeed another time?
But maybe that’s why there are seasons and why there are more seeds and maybe if it didn’t go quite the way you hoped this time, you can try again. Isn’t that what nature does? If the trees and the flowers gave up every time a seed didn’t make it they would rapidly go extinct. Instead they survive, wait, store up their reserves, and try again; they know there is a season and a time for all things under the sun.
So when we fail, we shouldn’t give up. We should survive, wait, store up our reserves, and try again.
Failure is defined as a lack of success. And success is defined as a favorable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavors. So failure is to arrive at a place that is not favorable but in which we can effectively ixnay termination in order to continue to attempt and endeavor.
Defined as such, failure is not an end as most of us believe it to be, it is the beginning of the next attempt or endeavor. Unless we give up. In which case, we stunt or dismiss the possibilities of the impending pursuit.
Giving up sells us short. It sells others short, because the next attempt could be favorable or prosperous and we could create a wonderful solution to a pressing problem, provide joy with our creativity, or encourage someone else to press on when things get tough.
Let’s not give up.
As for the little plant embryos rattling underground just outside the window, I’ll keep tending them and watering them and waiting with joyful anticipation for something, anything, hopefully a lot of things to come out of the ground.
If they don’t, I’ll be disappointed. But….the ground is already worked up and ready for the next planting of seeds which I can buy a big packet of at the local nursery for a little more than $5. It’ll be okay.