In the garden, it is possible to see the world full of all the wealth anyone could possibly desire.
What is wealth? Is it dollars in a bank account? No, that’s just commerce. Unfortunately, most people become sucked into the dollar-hoarding game at a young age, and continue exponentially increasing their need for more dollars by trying to “improve” their lives as they become more successful. As income increases, perceived needs increase. I’ve met many people with large incomes who have no free time and every dollar committed to the creditors before it’s even earned. It’s as though many people feel they can never have enough. Some very wealthy people operate from a poverty mentality, always seeing life out of balance.
In the garden, you can always have enough. Everything is equal, and you can make something out of nothing.
You can make food out of dirt, water, and seeds. You can make physical health from eating your own whole food, and you can make mental health out of sunshine. Then, you can make healthier soil out of the waste from the food and flowers you grow, so you can grow more! You can potentially close all the little leaks in your financial lifeboat and not worry about how to sink or swim. You can strive to be whole.
The garden demonstrates life as a circle instead of a hierarchy. There’s no ladder to climb, only seasons and inter-related systems that renew their own energy.
I’m nowhere near being self-sufficient and living sustainably, I’ll admit it. It seems to me an excellent goal to strive towards, though. Every time I close a little gap by eliminating some consumption or waste, I move closer to this goal. Recognizing consumption and waste, recognizing the “easy” things that end in dissatisfaction and recognizing what wealth really is requires awareness and honesty.
Wealth is time.
Giving up things creates more free time.
And free time in the garden is an opportunity to enter your own alternative universe.
I’ve been thinking about this since reading Shamanic Gardening, because the author says over and over to give thanks. For a bitter crusty woman like me, giving thanks sticks in my craw (only bitter crusty women have craws, you know) because giving thanks implies a receiver of thanks. So who would that receiver be? I hate simple answers, and I’m telling you right now not to give me one. The powerful forces in the universe aren’t jealous patriarchs like Yahweh or progeny-cannibalizing Lotharios like Zeus. They are unnamable, impersonal, and without consciousness. They aren’t “they” and they don’t care if you give thanks.
But the cognitive change that takes place by the practice of giving thanks is the perfect antidote to poverty mentality. I don’t give thanks to any anthropomorphic character in my imagination. I’ve begun practicing looking at all my privileges, gifts, and good fortunes. This practice might seem laughable if you saw my kitchen ceiling, my handbag, or my paycheck. Or the leak in my basement. Or the absence of family photos on my wall. I could really go on and on about what I don’t have; most of us could. But looking at what you lack is like looking into an abyss, and when you look into the abyss, the abyss also looks into you.
Better to look into the garden, where wealth is tangible.
The earth sustains human life. We’re part of the earth. We have everything we need. If you have anyone or anything in your life that you love, you have everything you need. Money might give you more time for what you love, but ultimately, focusing on the commerce of it all is a trap.
Ignore the money. Follow the love.
I have immense good fortune. I’m not supposed to be lucky; I’m a Firehorse. But today, tonight, the evening before Valentine’s Day, I am overcome with my bountiful good fortune.
I have a partner I can talk to about anything. Anything. I have a wealth of memories and experiences from my travels and experiments in life that rival any great novel. I haven’t tip-toed through life; I’ve gotten very dirty. I’ve survived without the things most people require for sustenance, kind of like a bromeliad or a succulent. Or maybe I’m just a weed. I have things and people I love deeply, although I wasn’t born to them. I have First World privileges. I have hot and cold running water. I have enough free time to write my nascent thoughts. I can read. I can draw. I can seduce and nurture and fight. I am incredibly rich.
Oh I have lost so much, and ruined so much. I could look at what I lack and forever fall into the abyss – couldn’t you?
Or I could choose to give thanks and see my riches in the compost, treasures in the trodden soil, wealth in the dirt I will return to when I die.