Recently I spent some time gardening with my daughter. We planted a wide variety of plants; some herbs, some flowers, and even some vegetables. As we did, she smiled and laughed, recounted her knowledge of plants that she had recently learned in school, and reveled in the participation and energy of being in the sun and playing in the dirt, of spreading the seeds of life and of cultivating something, even if she was unaware of what she was really experiencing, for some of that.
As we finished up, I stood and rubbed my hands to shake off some loose soil, and to reflect on what we had done. The sun was, sending rays of light through the leaves of the trees nearby, the grass swayed with the wind, as did my child’s hair, and she looked to me with a smile that I cannot possibly describe in this composition.
Life is all around us. We are blessed to be able to experience it in such abundance and in such majesty, and to have minds and hearts capable of appreciating it. But even as life flourishes, it also will eventually ebb into the cycles, only to rise again; much like our lives. But even as my fingers raise the soft green basil leaves I planted some time ago, I find that the nurturing gesture is but a symbol for the truth of life — it is that which we experience. With luck, love, and patience, our garden will grow and with it, our hearts. We will find smiles in the scents they carry on the wind. But it isn’t the plants or the growth, or even the cycle, that brings life to the forefront — it is experience.
We are granted endless opportunities, few of which we take it seems, to experience life as it is, right now. The admiration I feel towards life as it grows is in my heart, not in the plant. While the plant inspired it, true life exists within my experience of it. The sweet scents on the wind are reminders that I am privileged to have the ability to behold such experiences. It is perhaps the aggregate of these experiences with our surroundings that is the essence of life, it seems to me.
If the plant feels the warmth of the sun, perhaps it experiences its own unique form of life. It’s leaves spread and reach to bath in golden light, it’s roots drink like straws from the moist soil, and it flourishes under the conditions of life it needs. Some might say that because the plant grows, it breaths, and it eats, it must be alive; but I argue that these are responses; symptoms to the reaction of life. Life bathes in the nourishment it is given and it responds to it by blossoming. That it receives the nourishment certainly alludes to life, but that it responds in kind is the translation of it. A rock also receives the sunlight but it does not respond to it.
The experience of life is what I have come to appreciate, and it is the single reason I try to pour my heart into the present moment. If we spend so much time planning for what our life will be, and so much time assessing and evaluating what our life was, we will never actually participate in it. Remember the past and honor it for its lessons. Brave the future with each step, not with anxiety but with hope. But most importantly, live in the present, where all that ever has been and all that ever will be focuses and converges.
Thank you for reading.