Summer has long since left us, and taken all of its greenery, all of its lazy sunshine and flourishing gardens, with it. What is it about summer that feels so alive, so celebratory and hopeful? At its beginning, many of us come up with plans, some involving travel or gardening, others involving that ever-elusive personal metamorphosis of becoming a slender, more toned version of ourselves, the version we can’t imagine becoming at any other time of the year. There is an almost manic buzz of excitement about all the things we intend to accomplish, and sometimes we actually do them, motivated by some semblance of youthful energy. But then, the trees begin to lose their leaves and the grass begins to crackle under our feet, the sickly yellow colour of the blades telling us that another summer season is coming to a close. Somehow, it happened without us noticing, leaving us to wonder, where did all the flowers in the garden go?
It’s not hard to see how this scenario may parallel our view of our own personal development at times. When we’re younger, we feel like there is so much time ahead, so many moments which are disposable because there will always be another opportunity, another chance to succeed. We put off our plans, sidestep our best intentions because there will always be tomorrow. There is a kind of safety in this thinking, even though we may be aware of the distant cloud of the unspoken expiration date on the horizon. It’s almost as though we think we can be whatever we choose to be, as long as we do it before the season for achievement is over. But, who decides when that will be, and when our ability to succeed will end?
All too often, people find themselves thinking that they’ve left the best behind them, and they settle into a dissatisfying routine, falsely believing that there is no longer any room for change in their lives. They don’t believe that they have what it takes to make alterations, perhaps thinking that they are no longer capable of learning or that they don’t have the courage to take on new challenges, particularly if they haven’t taken on many before. For those trapped in this sort of stagnant thinking, the empty garden is what it is: a patch of earth covered with the remains of dried, dead flowers: strewn papery rose petals, the wilted, wrinkled shrapnel of lilies. Nothing grows in it, anymore.
While it may be true that the summer flowers have had their day, perhaps we need to look at this scenario a little bit more closely. First of all, that garden wasn’t there until it was planted. It wasn’t some sort of spontaneous happening, but the result of planning, planting and attentive care. Second, why is it that we think there is only one season for blooming? While it’s true that gardens tend to thrive in the warmer season, there is still so much beauty and growth to be had in autumn: the brilliant orange of Chinese Lanterns, the regal purple of the creeping Lilyturf, the subtle, yet cheerful pink of Sedum. Why, then, do we think of autumn as the beginning of the end of growth? Perhaps we simply put too much stock into believing that there are limits, and our mistake is in not challenging these limits.
There is beauty in each stage of life, and each holds the possibility for positive change. Perhaps the leaves on the trees lose their fresh and vital green, but the change might be that a rich, electric yellow or blazing, spirited red takes its place, which might, in the eyes of many, be something of an improvement. Growth and change may start off with a negative feeling, but once you allow it, it’s amazing what kind of colour can come into your life. Our ability to change and grow is perennial and does not bear the weight of a permanent ending.
Whatever you perceive as your personal limits, if you really look at what you’ve learned throughout your life so far, you will likely see that you have achieved so much more than you have ever realized. There is no end to learning, no matter who you are and what your personal situation. As long as you have the motivation to try, there is always the potential to build your confidence and exact a powerful change.
The garden is always ready; you just need to do the work to make sure it’s always in bloom.