New Growth Won’t Match
I am a gardener. I am about 10 years into nurturing a butterfly garden — this is a place I spend my time. The gardening itself is a joy, and it provides balance from the amount of my life I spend indoors, in meetings and in front of a computer. And there’s something else — my garden is a metaphor factory. When I am out digging in the dirt I often see a metaphor for my life. There’s no effort involved other than getting out into the garden and doing what needs doing. It’s more that all of a sudden there is a lesson for me to see.
And so it was one day this year, as spring was heading into summer.
I had been working in my front garden, doing what needed doing, when I sat down to rest in an Adirondack chair. As with all Adirondack chairs, I was encouraged to lean back, relax, and gaze up. I found myself gazing into a red oak tree at the edge of the patio. The oak had developed its deep green leaves for the season and was also still growing new leaves. Right in my field of vision there was this new growth — a shoot of garish lime green, tinged with a deep red, that stuck out from the rest of the tree with its staid green leaves. That bright green growth, with dark red tingeing its edges, captivated my attention. I couldn’t pull my eyes away, though it was not a harmonious sight. Decidedly un-harmonious.
As I sat looking at the tree with its glaring new growth, I saw the lesson for my life: as I seek and pursue new areas that are calling to me, new arenas for stretching and growing, they will not match my life, will not match me. There will be a lack of harmony for a while, as this new element gets integrated into my days, before ultimately making for a better life.
The first example I have of this struggle was when my husband and I got rid of our TV in February 2002. This was something I had been curious to try, something that was calling to me to experiment with, so out the TV went.
I remember the first weekend with no TV. I’ve never had the experience of coming off a drug to which I am addicted until I got rid of the TV. That first weekend I felt like I was detoxing from a drug: awkward, unsettled, a tad bit embarrassed. And yet, all these years later, that one change has lasted and has led to others that have had enormous impact on my life. I couldn’t see it at the time, but getting rid of the TV started me on an important journey to discovering what I believe, what I think, and to reduce unwanted influences from my life. I had to own that I was able to be influenced by ads and images and the lure of distraction. This change started me on a path to being a more conscious consumer of media. And that new growth did not match my life. Until it did.
I then recalled my first whole-food-based cleanse in 2007. The first week I walked around angry, saying, “Everything tastes like dirt.” As I was coming off of processed foods, I probably was tasting dirt — food that was grown in the dirt, instead of in a manufacturing facility somewhere. It made me angry, uncomfortable, and afraid. But I was growing and learning, and getting healthier. That growth did not match my life. Until it did.
I still struggle with food, all these years later. But that first experience of cleaning up my eating gave me understanding of foods’ impact on my health, energy, and life.
Then I thought of the start up I am working on with a number of amazing people. We believe in what we are doing — our customers tell us all the time that we are helping them. What we are introducing to the world is new growth. We are part of the new era of the Knowledge Economy, the post-social world of the Collaborative Economy. We are telling senior IT professionals that the best way to learn something is to connect with people who have done what they are trying to do. Our technology and service makes that happen. We are offering new growth to an industry and a profession that needs it. IT needs information at a different speed with more authenticity, and that growth doesn’t yet match the way millions of these very smart people do their work.
I know that as we persevere toward our goal of helping these people, the growth we are offering will begin to match and become part of how more people work. I look forward to that.
I am a born seeker: of God, of new experiences, of who I was made to be. It’s a challenging path, often interesting, and so much a part of who I am that I will remain true to the seeker in me. My magic garden metaphor factory helped me see that new growth, on a red oak tree, on a rose bush, and on me, doesn’t match, is not harmonious, won’t fit. Until it does. So I will keep on pushing the edges and dealing with the discomfort that is a harbinger of better days ahead.
I wish you the same exciting and rewarding journey.