Life patterns #5: gardening as practice and metaphor
A pattern language is a method of describing good design practices or patterns of useful organization within a field of expertise. This post is the fifth pattern in a language describing a slow, simple and “light” style of living for challenging times.
There is a stereotypical view of gardening as a “soft” activity, a gently escapist pursuit suited to retirees with time on their hands and an aversion to loud noises. This stereotype is false. Gardening is one of the most essential of all physical and intellectual activities, bringing us in touch with the deepest core of what it means to be human.
Gardening yields literal fruit… and veg, and herbs – core ingredients of a healthy diet. It is wonderful exercise, inviting us to bend and stretch and move in ways that keep our bodies young and mobile. It to can create the most extraordinary beauty in and around our homes, providing us with comfort and joy as well as a sense of creative satisfaction.
Moreover, when considered in the abstract, gardening provides us with an essential analogy for the cultivation of our selves and lives beyond the garden wall. Like gardening, living our lives to the fullest involves a complex, subtle and habitual process of nurturing something alive so that it flourishes over time. We learn the properties of the materials we are working with, often through painful trial and error. We develop value judgements about what is and isn’t desirable, and learn to reconcile these ideals with realities which are as often as not beyond our control. We learn to seize serendipitous opportunities when they arise, and to live with, and even to leverage, unexpected setbacks.
And over time we build up a rich toolkit of skills and habits that aids us in our journey.
Therefore, incorporate gardening into your daily routine, and cultivate the habit of thinking about living a good life as a process akin to nurturing a beautiful, flourishing garden.