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Taming nature

Weeding the garden:

I spent the morning sitting outside weeding the garden. Enjoying the sun on my back (in fleeting bursts ala Melbourne style), and not caring about the grit chipping my nail polish or the dirt embedding itself under my fingernails.

And more than anything, feeling grateful we live in a house with greenery – with trees and leaves and grass and weeds.

In many ways this greenery has been my compensation for water.

A soothing space:

Water I find soothing for the mind and the soul. In the area of Sydney I lived I had water at every turn – the beach, the harbour. I didn’t have to seek out water – it was just there.

I felt the loss of the sounds, the smell, and the colours of water very deeply at the beginning. But as the year has progressed I have found myself more and more often in the garden. Finding peace and stillness with greenery ….and weeding.

I have found weeding to be enormously therapeutic – as calming and soothing as being near water. I’m finding I can get into the same thoughtful and meditative space where I can work through issues and find clarity. Oh yes I’m grateful for that.

Taming nature:

And this morning as I wrestled stubborn roots that had buried themselves deep just how alike the exercise of weeding, of taming nature, is to the work we need to do in taming our own natures.

A weed, I once heard, is a rose bush in a cow paddock. In other words the wrong plant in the wrong place. Grass in the garden is great – we want it lush and thick and embedded strongly in the soil. The same grass creeping its way between tiles of the foot path has declared itself weed.

So we cut it back, and pull up the roots if we can get them to give way, and try to tame nature. Knowing all the while it will grow back. This is not a one time exercise. There are roots that remain hidden underground that will resprout. And the weeds will once again spread requiring taming once more.

Taming our own nature:

And personal development and character refinement is just like that. We have roses in our character, and thorns, and weeds. We all do. So how do we weed our character garden and tame our own natures? Here’s what I think we need to do?

  1. Know yourself: Become aware of our nature and do an honest survey of our selves. What’s a rose? What’s a weed? What can be cut back and used more thoughtfully? What needs pulling out by the roots? 
  2. Be mindful: No matter what your character garden looks like, no character trait is always good or always bad. You can have too much kindness at times, or use it when strictness is called for. Good or bad depends just as much on when and how you use a certain characteristic than the characteristic itself. So are you acting or reacting in a certain way because of habit? Or have you mindfully chosen a certain action or reaction as the best option in a given circumstance? Only you will know.
  3. Keep growing: No matter how beautiful your character garden is there is always room to grow and develop. If we are alive then there’s an improvement we can make. At times pruning and cutting back will be enough. At times we need to pull things up by the roots and abolish it from our repertoire. We need to nurture, we need to water and fertilise, those things that are working well for us. We need to constantly practice being our best.
  4. Get a gardener: Sometimes its really hard to understand ourselves and we need someone we trust to hold up a mirror so we get a better view of where we are at. A mentor, a friend, a coach, close family can all help you tend your inner garden. And in return we can do the same for them.

Understanding your self and developing your character sounds easy. After all I’ve reduced it to four dot points. But in truth it takes commitment and you’ll need to get your finger dirty. You may choose to use professional help. I have found coaching brilliant for developing a much better self-awareness of my strengths and weaknesses.

And am I there yet? Well I’m just at the beginning. I have weeded along one length of the garden, my nails are dirty and my back is sore. And yes, there’s more work to do, there always will be.

Even so, the start I’ve made may not be roses, but it is beautiful in my eyes.

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