There is a lot of unrest in our country right now. The COVID-19 pandemic still has a firm grip on much of the United States, and at the same time, political and racial tensions are running high. At times, I find it challenging to have a positive outlook of the future when the world’s troubles weigh me down. It is at these times that I once again turn to my gardens for comfort and reflection.
During these troubling times, I often wish that the world was like a garden. In a garden, plants of all shapes, sizes, species, and colors coexist peacefully. These plants complement one another, and together they form a fascinatingly colorful place. Each plant within the garden is unique and beautiful, but when they are brought together, it becomes extraordinary. I think of how dull and sad the earth’s gardens would be if they were only made up of one color, how much their beauty would fade if all the flowers were white, or yellow, or red instead of the dazzling patchwork of color they are now.
When I planted a crop of carrots a few years back, I discovered that one of the carrots was a different color than the rest upon harvesting the crop. One seed of another variety must have gotten mixed in with my packet of seeds. What a happy accident! This carrot stood out starkly from the rest, and I couldn’t help but think that this made it even more delightful.
In this setting, I was struck by the notion that this is the essence of what it means to be true to yourself, freely standing out as an individual, and having no fear of whether you fit in with the norm. How wonderful to think that if the world were a garden, people could feel free to be who they are, never having to fear being different. In a garden, they would be recognized as the same in all the ways that matter, just as white, red, purple, or yellow carrots, despite their color differences, are still recognized as having all the exact characteristics of a carrot. When I look at this photograph, I imagine how nice it would be if individuals could accept their differences and celebrate others for being true to themselves.
Many varieties of vegetables don’t fit the preconceived notions of what their species should look like, and yet, they are all incredibly appealing. They stand out for being different, and in the horticultural world, this is often celebrated and envied.
Plant breeders will spend years developing new varieties in hopes that they will stand out from all others. A yellow pea! A striped butternut squash! A purple tomato! Gardeners can’t wait to grow these uncommon varieties and give them a prominent place in the garden.
If the world were a garden, this same uniqueness would be celebrated. People who are now made to feel afraid because of who they are based on color, gender, where they are from, or their beliefs, would be allowed to happily bloom in earth’s garden, proudly displaying all the traits that make them a unique individual.
Alas, I realize that even in the idealistic world of gardening, there are weeds, pests, and diseases. Despite their beauty and peacefulness, gardens still fall short of utopia. And yet, there are solutions to these problems if the caretakers are willing to find and implement them. We are the caretakers of our planet and each other. I believe that there are solutions to all of the world’s woes if we care enough about each other and the earth to make the necessary changes. Let’s vow to be more like our gardens and allow everyone to bloom, no matter how different they are from us. Let’s enjoy how colorful the world can be when individuals are allowed to shine. Let’s pretend that the world is a garden. As it’s caretakers, we can bring about change with compassion and kindness and some flowers sprinkled in.