Lessons of the Tomato Invasion

Seventeen small tomato plants are lounging on the windowsill patiently waiting for that magical time when they can be transplanted to the garden.  I scaled back my planting this year.  Last year at this time there were about sixty tomato plants hanging out on my windowsills, my dining room table, and on cookie sheets on chairs beside the windows.  We were living day to day with the invasion of the tomato plants and it was awkward.

It is far less awkward this year with the number of invaders being limited to one-tenth of what we were dealing with in the previous year.  The cookie sheets have not been commandeered for non-cooking uses and the dining chairs are available for sitting on without first removing plants.  For me, the 2014 tomato reality is evidence of incremental learning on my part.

You may be thinking, poor woman, what a simple and slow learner she must be that she is gauging her learning by the size of the tomato plant invasion year over year.    And you would be right in part as I have come to the conclusion that we are all simple and slow about learning particular life lessons.  Fortunately our simplicity and speed are different person-to-person and life lesson to life lesson, and so we learn and re-learn different things at different times in different ways.

Slow Spring 2014
Sometimes I get weary and discouraged with having to learn the same life-lesson over and over.  I wonder why I can't just get it and be done with it.  I spent Friday of this week in a course on Mentoring and one of the exercises was to identify things I could be better at and then explain how my circumstance would improve if I were better at that particular skill or behaviour.  Dummy that I am, I forgot my own post from March 29 and my advice to enjoy the luxury of being you without the pressure of who or what you should or could be.  I participated in the exercise because I am a simple and slow learner, and I had forgotten already how that kind of exercise makes me feel inadequate and not enough.

Glory be, the good news is that it didn't take me long to figure it out this time!  Within an hour and a half I had a moment of clarity when I thought, oh crap, I have done it again.  I have put energy into listing my shortcomings, I have wasted life-time imagining some fantastic existence, and I ignored my own advice to be content.  I came away discontent, unsettled, and uncertain why.  I think the answer is in the tomato invasion; it is in the concrete actions we can take day to day.  Sitting around talking and imagining makes me cranky; choosing and doing makes me happy.

We did not just talk about how nice it would be to use our table and chairs, we decided to plant less seeds this year and we planted less seeds.  Choosing and doing, is where the pleasure and the satisfaction lies.  Now we are enjoying the freedom of using our dining table and chairs without inconvenience, and the tomatoes are happily contained on windowsills.  So the question is whether I can extend the learnings from the tomato invasion into the other things that I am clearly not mastering in my life.  Things like saying I choose not to participate in an exercise that does not work its way through to concrete action.  Things like saying I choose not to take time from my life to wallow in the "if I were better at" scenarios.

I will keep choosing to create and craft a life of decision and action.  Because at the end of my life, my actions will speak louder than any words.  For today, I will not talk about what I might be, I will simply choose and do - little things that make a difference, things of grace and kindness.