A thinly-veiled allegory. I have always liked this phrase, having first heard it mentioned in relation to a science fiction film I had seen, many years ago now. Peter and I have since related the phrase to all kinds of books, films and TV series, usually involving some kind of invasion or threat.
Today, as the title suggests, I am not talking about a film. After all, this is a post about the thinly-veiled allegorical nature of gardening. We are fortunate to have bought our house before housing prices went crazy. The house came with the traditional suburban 1/4 acre block. We had moved from a townhouse in Northcote and our new backyard looked like a parkland to us and we were inspired to make our own mark.
So where does the allegory exist? It all came about after we had purchased another tray of seedlings. We don’t usually plant over Winter but this year we thought we would live dangerously.
A day after planting, the stem on one of the broad beans snapped in an unusually high wind. I felt a rising feeling of distress in my chest. All of a sudden, growing our own vegetables just seemed too hard. Why do we even bother etc.
I eventually settled down and asked myself, why the over-the-top reaction? I noticed that I had experienced this feeling before. It’s when I hear or read about the crises and tragedies occurring around the world. Sometimes it weighs too heavily on my shoulders and the only way I can cope is to block it out.
I thought back to our garden. We plant everything with hope that it will survive but we cannot control all of the elements that work together. Earwigs, snails, poor soil, not enough rain or too much sun. I realised that I had to stop worrying about the plants that didn’t survive and focus on those that did.
Then I thought about the world and all its troubles. Rather than close my heart as a protection against a seemingly cruel world, I need to stay connected, to not be distracted by what I perceive as being bad and wrong. Plants die and wars happen. This little lesson on our garden has reminded me that I am not as fragile as I sometimes feel. I have learnt about emotional resilience*.
*There is such a thing, I thought I’d made it up! “Emotional resilience simply refers to one’s ability to adapt to stressful, situations or crises.” https://www.imsa.edu