verb |transˈplant| [ with obj. ]move or transfer (something) to another place or situation, typically with some effort or upheaval: his endeavor to transplant people from Russia to the Argentine | (as adj. transplanted) : a transplanted Easterner.• replant (a plant) in another place.• remove (living tissue or an organ) and implant it in another part of the body or in another body.noun |ˈtransˌplant|an operation in which an organ or tissue is transplanted: a heart transplant |kidneys available for transplant.• an organ or tissue that is transplanted.• a plant that has been or is to be transplanted.• a person or thing that has been moved to a new place or situation.
On Day 17 of my 30 days of rest, this little plant was thriving. It was busting out of it’s tiny container, so I did what I thought I was supposed to do and, with a bag of fresh soil and a large pot, I moved my thriving plant into a bigger space with more room to take root and bloom.
Daily this sweet plant seems to be dying, one leaf at a time. Currently, it only has about six leaves. The soil stays moist and I am not even watering it. I am worried that the roots are mildewing but how can I know? What ever is happening is happening under ground. I try to bring it to the sunshine as often as possible.
I read somewhere that solitude does not feel like solitude when you share it with plants and animals. Schroeder, my dog, and this plant have filled my hours of rest with their presence. Caring for them has provided me with an opportunity to give and receive at a pace that I could sustain even at my weakest.
This week a friend told me that what she liked best about our new life is that we have modeled that it really is possible to choose a different life in a community where the norms are well-stated and well-maintained by it’s citizens.
She’s right. It is possible. But there is a reason people don’t change. There is a reason they don’t rock the boat. While I thought I was transplanting my beautiful plant to a bigger and better place for it to thrive, I just might have killed it in the process.
I wasn’t going to tell you about that.
I want my story to say, “LOOK! See how everything got bigger and better when I simplified my life!” I was going to pretend that this plant was not a metaphor for our own transition once I saw that it didn’t fit the narrative I wanted to tell.
Another friend told me, “You have shown that you really can accomplish anything you put your mind to.” She is right. What I am just beginning to be able to put into words is that I can not accomplish anything else.
The losses of this transplant have been tremendous. The slowness of how I go about my days has revealed what works and what doesn’t work and I can’t un-know it. I am no longer addicted to distraction and busyness. Instead, I am with what is and that is the only place I can be.
It has meant less for me to show anyone. No blooms and hardly any leaves.
Quite honestly, I only have the courage to write about it because just when I was about to admit to myself this plant was dying, I saw several tiny seeds making their way to the sun.
In spite of the evidence that everything above ground was dying, I have known deep inside that amazing things were happening under there. I have lived a life that was so wrapped up in what everyone else needed that I have paid very little attention to my needs.
Before this time, I believed that my needs were mostly logistical (cleaning, scheduling, budgeting) and, especially compared to the trauma, grief and loss that many of my loved ones were facing, I was fine. Just fine.
I have been apologizing to myself a lot recently about the expectations I put on me. I demanded more and more and more and more and those demands spilled all over my husband and my kids. I would do my very best and then continue raising the bar to an unreachable level.
While my own life has been absent of significant trauma and abuse, I have traumatized myself with perfectionism.
It might look like everything is dying because so much is: old patterns, out-dated roles, and unrealistic expectations of myself and others.
On the surface, I don’t have anything to show for myself. No evidence of what I have been doing with my time.
But I feel it.
I know it.
There is a peace I did not know was possible, a compassion that feels big enough for all the pain in the world, a shimmer that lights up the people, places and ideas that fill my days.
Sometimes a pot full of dirt is enough. A reminder to my hard-working perfectionist that potential isn’t what makes anyone worthy.