May 25, 2022

You Don’t Know Patience till You’ve Propagated a Rose Bush.


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I don’t have a green thumb.

Most plants that I care for turn all shades of brown and yellow, but I still love to try.

Currently as I write this, my beloved monstera in my office has a yellow bottom leaf that I can’t bring myself to remove; is it laziness or denial? I’m not quite sure.

Last month, when I tried to put some of the potted plants in the rain for a drink, I slipped and cracked my tailbone on the slippery, rain-soaked tile, so now I’m convinced that the plants are trying to kill me too.

Since healing up and regaining my full range of motion, I’ve been spending more time in the garden. Clearly, I’m trying to make amends.

I’ve noticed now that spring is here, that the yard is overgrown with everything but flowers and veggies. Every time I walk outside, my heart sinks with guilt.

The voice in my head says:

“Why can’t you keep the yard clean?”

“You spend too much time online.”

“Why don’t you use the space to grow food?”

For the past week, I’ve been spending at least 15 minutes a day in the garden, sometimes more—and I’ve been learning a lot about myself in the process.

It is teaching me patience above all else. A quality that I thought was innate in me, but I’m convinced that you don’t know patience until you’ve pruned and propagated a rose bush.

A practice that my ex had shared with me from his time as a monk. Apparently, that was one of his jobs at the temple—to plant thorny rose stems and watch them flourish.

It takes gentle care and patience to cut the stem, transfer it, and replant it without being poked by the thorns. Presence is mandatory. Any distraction or speediness is bound to be followed by a wince and a squeak, and possibly some blood—surely that will bring you back to the moment.

Most of the 15 minutes are spent clearing out one of the garden beds near the house. It gets lots of rain, so watering it won’t be a huge task, and it also gets lots of sun. I’ve been clearing out the little trees of holy basil that have taken over, making space for some new seeds.

This has required some patience as well because as much as I would like the process to go quickly, it takes time. I have little scratches on my arms from the thick branches, blisters on my palms from the hoe, and muscles that ache from being used more than they have in a long time.

Feeling my body in this way has been oddly satisfying—probably because I’m realizing I haven’t been in my body much lately, as I’ve been spending a lot of time in my head and in front of a screen.

Seeing the clean soil and empty space has been rewarding, and it’s probably the only reason that I keep going out there every day. To see the progress that I have been making is a great feeling of accomplishment. Knowing that I did it with my own hands, and that soon enough there will be little seedlings taking up the space, makes my heart sing.

I’m hoping that I can nurture them through the stages of growth, and if not, it’s okay. Because in the process, I am nurturing my own patience, care, and love—qualities that will continue to make me a better person.

Do you garden? If you have any gardening tips for me, I would be forever grateful if you were to leave some in the comments! I need all the help I can get.

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