Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Gardening 101

Around the time a young person enters college in our society, she is given a small window flower box and told to plant a garden of her life's dreams...but she is not told how to go about gardening it. Her box is roughly the same size as the boxes of all other young people her age, and she has the pick of many different seeds to choose from.

Some young gardeners haphazardly throw all sorts of seeds into the box: dreams of wealth, dreams of fame, dreams of fully developed talents. Some take out their graph paper and meticulously plan every detail of their boxes using bright colored pencils. Others test the soil first to determine its pH and proceed to plant the dreams that would grow best in the preexisting conditions of the box.

There really is no best way to garden the box; however, depending on what kind of gardener you are, you should not be surprised at the problems you encounter along the way.

If you're a haphazard gardener, you will have a wide variety of dreams that grow. You will be able to determine what grows best in your box and what doesn't. However, you will have to thin out your plants so that the dreams you truly want to keep can grow. For example, if you want to be excessively wealthy, you most likely will have to sacrifice other dreams, like staying home with your children when they are young. This is not bad, but you need to realize that all of your dreams will not flourish if you take on too many of them at once. The plants in your box will compete for the resources of your life, and none will grow to be strong and healthy if some are not thinned out. Sacrificing dreams is not sad if they are cut so that other dreams may grow.

If you are a meticulous gardener, realize that your dreams will not grow the way you planned. There will be weeds to get rid of, diseases to fight off, pestilence to exterminate. Your beautiful box may not flower until the end of the season, no matter how much fertilizer you use. Be prepared for nature to not cooperate. Don't become discouraged when your attempts to follow your plans do not succeed.

If you are a gardener who tests for the optimal conditions, you may have an extremely healthy garden of dreams, but it may not be as flashy as other gardens you encounter. Avoid becoming jealous of the beautiful color-coordinated blooms in the meticulously planned flower box. Instead, rejoice in the health of your dreams, even if they are less showy than the dreams in the boxes around you.

In the end, the real question for the young person is not "What should I plant in the box?" but rather "What sort of gardener am I?" Once you figure that out, gardening should be a lot easier.

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