The Gardener

There once lived a gardener deep in the forest. He ended up moving away from society, as he felt he could not relate to anyone. Instead, he fell in love with the woods. He was isolated, but he felt at peace. He lived in a small forest-dwelling that looked very much like the house of a gnome or troll. It was magical in a way.

Instead of spending his time worrying about worldly affairs, the gardener would read about plants, mindfulness, and meditation. His goal was to be entirely at peace at all times. He wanted to be able to nurture something and see the result of his work. He realized worldly possessions and goals were not a priority to him. So he withdrew into the comfort of his forest dwelling.

Ironically, before moving to the forest, the gardener had no prior experience with gardening. All of his knowledge came from reading and practice. It took him months to be able to sprout a plant. He tried all sorts of different botanical varieties. The gardener spent years in this cyclical pattern; it was frustrating to him. He spent a great deal of time reading about new plant species, finding the seeds, planting, watering and nurturing them. He was beginning to feel upset at the lack of his success. He started to wonder if everything he touched merely died?

These continued failures began to give the gardener an intense and expansive sense of sadness and sorrow. He started to question his worth. He thought to himself “Will I ever be able to live up to my title as a gardener?” Luckily he was raised to be headstrong, so like the good little boy that society taught him to be, onward he forged.

It wasn’t until some months later that he stumbled upon a new seed, one that he had never heard of before. Its history was complicated, it’s origin unfamiliar. This background cloaked the seed in mystery and made it even more appealing than the standard domestic plants that he had been trying to cultivate. So he put even more time and effort into learning about the seed. He began to spend every waking hour thinking about it. He thought to himself “How can I make this seeds environment so fertile, so abundant that it could not possibly wither?”

He began to set up the small plot where he would cultivate this new seed variety. He took great care to ensure the soil was at the right temperature, dampness and nutrient content. These of course were all according to books and limited prior experience. It took him days to create his plan of attack and prepare. After quite some time, the day was finally upon him.

He decided to plant the seeds and to commit his body, mind, and soul to the nourishment of them. He even increased his mindfulness and meditation practice to ensure he was in a good head space. He thought that this would allow him to give the plant space to grow. So, with all positive intentions in place, he planted the seeds and awaited eagerly.

It took several days, but finally the seeds sprouted. The sprouted plants gave the gardener great excitement! This feeling was a large piece of joy that came from the manifestation of his efforts. The inner sense was like a warm spring day. His heart was like a frozen river that had just endured a long, cold and harsh winter.  When the sun struck the ice, it began to melt. At first, it was a small trickle. However, as the day wore on, it became a rushing river of joy! The gardener grew so excited that he could hardly hold back his level of excitement.

The gardener incessantly checked on his plants. He made sure, day and night that they had plenty of food and water. He was so excited about the growth of these plants that he began to over water them. The joy flowed from his heart so intensely that he began to lose sight of reality. He started to see what he wanted to see, and not what was there. So he kept watering the plants, even though they were drowning. His love, joy, and affection were so strong that he could not hear their cries for help. They showed him that it was too much by slowly turning brown. Instead of focusing on this slow death, he chose only to see the small flowers that appeared as the plants slowly died.

It wasn’t until several days had passed that the gardener began to catch onto what had happened. At this point, it was too late. He had successfully drowned the plants with his flowing inner river. What he had done, quickly became painfully obvious. The warning signs were not only there, they were apparent, but he was selfish. The gardener wanted to feel more of the joy, happiness, and love that was coming from within him. So he selfishly squeezed the life from the plants. He realized how disconnected he was from reality. He desperately wanted things to be different. He was acting as he wished things to be, and not as they were. It became even more painful when he realized that he had been doing this all along.

The gardener had been incessantly watering the plants out of fear. He feared that they would not thrive. So instead of letting plants do that which they do - grow - he tried to hurry the process along. By hurrying this process, he manifested what he had feared, and his plants all died. He drowned them all in the exact thing that they needed to thrive.

The story of the gardener can be applied to many different aspects of our lives. Many different things in life need to grow like a plant, and if we try to force them, we do the opposite of nurturing them, we crush them. One example is a relationship, with a particular emphasis on romantic and love-centric situations. This situation can happen when all prior connections have failed, or worse yet hurt us in some way. The case is compounded when there is a deep-seated grasping onto the other person out of want, fear or need.

In some way, many people deal with these sort of feelings. Some cope with them better than others. It is important to realize as well, what part of the situation is us as the gardener and part is the quality of the soil or the climate. If we try to grow coffee in Canada, this will never endure. So we must take great care with whom we enter into a relationship. After all, we do become those with whom we surround ourselves.

The point of this article is to emphasize that too much of a good thing is a bad thing. We must be able to be mindful in the moment to realize the signals that reality is sending our way. If we don’t, there will be a mismatch. We must also be careful to listen to what our emotions are telling us. We can act out of love or fear. It is an intricate dance between a choice, situation and emotional stability.

In the end, a relationship is two people. The blame never wholly resides on either side - it is imperative that we realize this. This big-picture view is the realization that will allow forgiveness toward ourselves as the overbearing gardener. Once we accept what has been done, recognized our part and processed it, we can learn something about ourselves. We can take this learning with us to apply to the planting of our next seed and the cultivation of our future relationships.