In the span of a week I've planted flowers, mulched, replanted flowers, and made a dozen trips to Home Depot. I spent money that could have gone for at least one really cute floral dress that I would have enjoyed more than the previously mentioned real flowers. I got dirty, well that part wasn't bad. I got sweaty, again not bad for the workout value. However, when all was said and done, I just don't get it.
I've heard people talk about how digging in the dirt brings them to a zen place, that they feel one with nature. I just wanted to get the damn flowers in the ground and have it look pretty. There was no zen.
Running brings me to a zen place with its repetition and ability to free your mind. Gardening? I had to concentrate on the soil mixture and water and making sure that the flowers were appropriately spaced. I was lifting bags without bending my knees, trying to fix leaks in the hose, and frankly getting annoyed. That's not zen, that's work.
Oh, and you can forget any zen place after the flowers were planted, then it's upkeep and worry. Watering those flowers to keep them alive was like having a second pet. If only my dog Chewy could take care of them for me instead of trying to sleep in them. Why was I worrying anyway? My colorfully flowered and freshly mulched front yard took like 2 days before it lost that "new glow." Shouldn't I get at least a week's worth from 2 extra large trays of flowers and 8 bags of mulch, I'm sorry make that 12 after the return trip to Home Depot (don't even get me started on that stuff.)
New clothes give me several wearings if not an entire season's worth of "new glow." So again I ask where's the joy? Where's the zen? What am I missing?
Now in fairness, one of the joys my dad always had was planting and replanting, building decks and beautifying. He was a physician and educator by trade but a gardener and handyman by hobby. In fact 10 years ago he had a heart attack replanting bushes for the umpteenth time at my parent's house in 90 degree Florida heat. Thankfully, a double bypass surgery later, he was fine and for a decade continued his gardening, roof climbing, fixing everything lifestyle. He'd have it no other way.
This past fall, as you may know, my dad died. It was an accidental death, quite sudden, and took him from us long before we were ready. So maybe part of the zen I wasn't finding in the garden was due to missing him, wanting him to be there in his familiar beautifying role.
He always got the pleasure of planting, the zen feeling I couldn't find. In that familiar parent-child role, I simply accepted the benefits and got the joy of taking it all in. Though, even then it bothered me that 2 days later the "new glow" was gone.
Writing about this now, I'm wondering if I'll eventually find that zen in the garden like he did? You know connect with him, once time passes and has the dulling impact I hope it will. Sounds like a storybook ending right? Peace and zen in the garden with my dad?
Oh who am I kidding? That's a nice thought and for many people that probably would be the case. Thing is that just doesn't fit me, it's not my zen. I'm a product of my family but no doubt a unique individual. I can honestly say there's no shot I'll ever find that gardening zen that my dad did. As I famously announced at a young age: "you're not the boss of me, I'm the boss of me."
You know what, my dad's probably somewhere laughing right now at my mere mention of gardening zen and his favorite "Dana quote."
Now the thought of him laughing, I can find the zen place in that and it's something I also share with him, my whole family in fact. Best part there's no trip to Home Depot required, no digging in the dirt or shelling out cash, and that "new glow" from laughter, never goes away.