Plant a Radish, Get a Radish; or, Growth as Lifelong Occupation

Nothing like a holiday to force you to have to explain yourself to your relatives, and the new year to explain yourself to your self. “If you could do anything you wanted, what would it be?” I annoyingly asked of a relative who had expressed dissatisfaction with her job. What an obnoxious question. But it’s one that I ask myself on a regular basis. What the hell AM I doing? So often it’s hard to see that I have choices. Every freaking day contains a choice — how do I deal with the day, both the expected and the unexpected, the trials and torments, the boon and dearth. This is endlessly annoying.

The things I want control over are largely beyond my control: when (if) I’ll get published next, by whom, for what, will it get reviewed, will anyone care, will someone read it and walk away altered, at least for a second? Will I remain healthy, for how long? And my loved ones? What is our fate? Is this guy in the Chevy Cavalier going to stop for me as I’m venturing into this crosswalk? Or am I going to get squished?

Except for the actual event of death, pretty much what I have control over is how I handle everything. What I do with my life and days is a mix of what I need to do to meet the base level of Maslow’s hierarchy and the choices I make and how I make them, and the attitude with which I meet the crap, large and quotidian, thrust upon me. So I want to try to respond to life with more aplomb. I aspire to greater equanimity. And I want to make sure I’m living my life as closely as possible to the answer to that question I posed to that relative. Or at least, my intention is to try to keep circling closer with every spiral of life choices, luck willing.

I couldn’t help leaping to these ideas and some kind of “life lesson” stuff as I read this from Hope Jahren’s Lab Girl, which, thus far, I’m enjoying (I love the stories of single-minded passionate people, such a dilettante am I):

“A seed knows how to wait. Most seeds wait for at least a year before starting to grow; a cherry seed can wait for a hundred years with no problem. What exactly each seed is waiting for is known only to that seed. Some unique trigger-combination of temperature-moisture-light and many other things is required to convince a seed to jump off the deep end and take its chance — to take its one and only chance to grow.”

So am I growing? Or am I waiting? Because this is it. Life, the one and only. I hope I’m not waiting. I hope I’m taking my one and only chance to grow. Some seed might have a hundred years to hang around in the dirt. I don’t. Put your foot on the brake, Chevy guy, I’m coming through.


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