At Your Service: July 21, 2010

In nature, the progression is clear: there is a seed, which falls upon fertile ground, from which sprouts a seedling that grows to maturity and produces more seeds. Some of those seeds then repeat the pattern. In human endeavors, while the process is the same, the progression is not always as clear – or is it?

We people begin our endeavors with ideas and we often have many. Somewhere along the way, one idea seems to have more merit than some of the others and we begin to nurture it. This nurturing takes the form of action. As we do things to breathe life into the idea, it grows. The more action we take, the bigger the idea gets until it takes on a life of its own. When it reaches full maturity, we consider it a dream fulfilled.

When I pay closer attention to my garden, I notice that clear progression is more like human endeavors than I like to think. It is easy to oversimplify the process when we see it in nature because we overlook what is really happening.

There are many seeds. Some fall on fertile soil, while others languish on old leaves or on top of rocks. Those that land in the dirt must have rain and sun in proportions that enable the hull to soften and the germ within to sprout. As soon as the sprout begins to form roots and a leaf, it begins to attract the attention of predators. In my garden those are the chipmunks and moles and they are voracious.

The sprouts that are overlooked by the small rodents must sink the root in deep enough to hold when the rains turn heavy. Only then can growth continue. As the plant’s leaves develop and emerge it pulls nutrients from the soil and seems to spurt up, growing inches in days. This new growth makes it susceptible to new predators – the rabbits love tender green shoots.

On it goes, reaching its leaves up to catch the falling rain, pulling more nutrients from the soil until the mature plant flowers. Flowers turn to seeds and they fall back to the earth. Yet, even all the flowers don’t make it. Deer love to bite off flower heads and slugs suck the life from mature leaves and branches. As the seasons change, the plant itself withers becoming new soil that will feed next year’s seeds.

In my garden, many of the growing things I call weeds; I pull them out by the roots. Nonetheless, they often flourish and will overtake the garden without my diligence. Some of these, I have allowed to stay, later learning that they are medicinal herbs to be coveted. Last year I searched over hill and dale for mullein and plantain; this year there is enough of these weeds in my own garden to supply my needs.

When we begin to take action to transform our ideas into reality, our own fears keep many from taking root. As they grow and become visible to those around us, the doubts of others can conspire with our fears to devour even the best of ideas. If we don’t have enough money to fund the venture, its growth can be stunted or stopped. Only the right combination of being smart, doing the right thing and having ample funding will bring the idea to maturity.

Every stage of development requires nourishment and protection. Everything that grows must persevere against those things from without and within that can stop its progression. Indeed, what appears to be a progression is only on-going effort overcoming those things that would thwart growth. And sometimes we discover that the thing we want is already at hand – in human endeavor and in nature.