“Clay holds tight to what is put into it, in its case water and nutrients, but sometimes too tight, not allowing it to drain and the root gets suffocated. Sand retains the least amount of water, is also easily replenished, but often what is important to growth leaches out very quickly, so it needs additions and attention in a very steady supply.” - The Optimists Journal “What Lies Beneath our Feet”, Oct 20
Whether growing humans or growing plants, I believe that most of us try our best to drive toward the light and bloom where we are planted. As people, we have no control where we are born or who we are born too. I remember watching the news as a little kid and feeling this absolute sense of relief that I was born in California, because it looked to me like some seriously scary things were going on in Beirut and the Gaza Strip. Years later as I raised my own kids I started turning off the news because of the terrible stories that activated Matthew’s over active imagination. There are such vast differences in our individual experiences and sensitivities, many things that seem unfair that we have to find a way to make sense of, or choose to move forward even when we can’t, and yet there is so much connection in what we all long for as human beings…to be safe, seen, loved, belong, and be understood for who we are. Before we have even had the chance to step out and begin our formal education process, life has already begun to mold our outlook and our sense of security with situations that were out of our control, but that set us up for many of our decision patterns in life. Early life is spent learning and while I believe that a beginners mind is a key to longevity, later in life it becomes our decision how we will handle the unlearning of some of these lessons that caused us too much pain.
I have been blessed to have the benefit of my roots in the heavy clay of the central valley (on our ground, with the occasional sand strata running through it on the west side of the ranch) and the experience of my toes in the sand which now what feels like a good part of my adult life, based more on perspective and growth than actual years spent here. I see human nutrients as the fruits of the spirit - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. These human nutrients can also be summed up in every person born on this earth by positive psychology character traits that make up our personality. While life at the beach can seem relaxing, it’s still life, and there are a lot of people living it and, where I happen to be, they are usually living it at a pretty fast pace. When it gets crowded and quick, I have to remind myself to lift my eyes and my smile and still reach out for that human connection, that brings the kindness and compassion to the stories going on around me.
When a farmer has sandy soil, he has to amend it with organic matter to increase its holding capacity for the nutrients that will make his crops grow strong. On the human side of things, there is a shorter four letter word we often use for organic matter…sh#t. These are the things that get flung at us, sometimes that we had a burning gut feeling were coming, and others that blindside the heck out of us. Either way these are the experiences that produce the struggle, and no matter how much we hate it, the struggle is an inevitable and, if we allow it, rich and strengthening part of the journey. More often than not, life’s organic matter looks and smells like sh#t, its the heartbreak, the word no when we want to hear yes, the bruised ego, the fear of the unknown that wakes us in the middle of the night, the hesitation when we know we should act, and the debacle that is caused when we act before we think. I’ve learned that the trick is to let the organic matter, the sh#t of life, allow me to find and hold onto the nutrients that make me grow, like my roots that are planted in the heavy clay. I can let my heartbreak teach me more about forgiveness, my bruised ego foster more perseverance, or a failure manifest optimism that better days are ahead. It’s in this give and take that I can turn struggle into growth and strength and help me see that life is a series of my own choices that end up telling my story… the sh#t is the teacher and my outlook the narrator.