Saturday, June 7, 2008

Start where you are (My Sacred Life, Sunday)

In our backyard this time of year, we have quite a few containers, all different shapes and sizes, of pansies. It's my wife's way of jump-starting the backyard garden: get a few dozen Hardy Boy pansies even before the snow stops falling, and spread them around the various gardens in the back so that all the plants only starting to awaken have a good example they can follow. Wake up and bloom, everybody!

This year, a week or so ago, I noticed that we had a volunteer pansy, the first one we have seen after about eight or nine springs with pansies in pots in the backyard.

Not only did this little plant volunteer, it seems to be quite happy in its little spot, cuddled up against the edge of the concrete patio. Today, we noticed that it now has two blossoms. A few days ago, it only had one. So, it is doing nicely.

Here is what the success of this plant has taught me: don't waste time and energy bemoaning your fate. Instead, start where you are.

That pansy ended up trapped against a concrete slab as it started to grow, and it didn't hesitate to grow there anyway. That's where it was, so that's where it started. No issues around how sloppy its parents had been, or what a crappy school system it was forced to endure, or how hard it was to be growing up in such a tough neighborhood.

Given the complete lack of pansy support groups, I guess you might conclude that pansies are so well-adjusted that they are miles ahead of us, the human race. And, in a way, I have to agree.

Pansies know exactly why there are here--regardless of where "here" happens to be--and they get about their business. People, on the other hand, spend so much of their lives living out the regret over what they could have done, if only. For most of us, there are lots and lots of different "if only" topics, too. Or, we worry about what will come next week, unless. Yep...lots of fear-based nasty consequences to just being alive, aren't there? It's really not a wise investment, that energy devoted to worrying about what might happen in the future.

What if, instead, we awoke one morning and simply got about our business? If we had ambitions toward some dream, we would take concrete steps, however small they might be, toward living it. If we were unhappy with our employment situation, we would calmly decide what to do about it, and do it. If we knew we were in a relationship which was toxic, or there is a potential one which we know would be great but the other person isn't yet on board with the whole idea, we would end, or seek to begin, a relationship.

Notice: no fretting, complaining, sighing over lost opportunities, or otherwise trapping our focus anywhere but right here. None. We are here now. This is where we start, not in the past when we were somewhere else. That ship has sailed, and now we can only change what takes place with us in a starring role from this moment on. We need not worry about what might happen because we are too busy making the future real, one day at a time, to worry about the outcome.

That pansy has me convinced that I, too, can be a pansy volunteer and start right where I am right now, and simply move in the direction which will best serve me, starting now.
I'm already feeling good about how this is going to turn out, although I am not quite ready yet to start a movement which would include lapel buttons: PANSY VOLUNTEER. Maybe after the phrase gains some traction first...


Julia Rogers Hamrick said...

The other thing I love about pansies in general is how adaptable they are to temperature. They do great in cold weather--even below freezing--and manage to hang on during hot weather, though some do better than others when the temperatures soar. But as far as I know, pansies rarely, if ever, complain about conditions.

Kate I said...

Great post Rick...I really like your analogy here. I had a good laugh about your "button"...and it might be worth it, just to wake people up and see if they're paying attention!

Rick Hamrick said...

My lovely wife is so right! Pansies are just as happy in the cold as they are in 70-degree weather. We used to put a basket of pansies in the crabapple tree in our front yard, sitting it where the tree branched into two trunks about four feet off the ground. It would sometimes end up with snow inches deep in the basket, and the pansies shining faces sticking up in the snow.

Kate-- I have added a signature line to my personal email now: Rick Hamrick, PV

There's also a link to this post included for those willing to investigate further.

Olivia said...


I absolutely can get behind this post. And I love your PV signature!

I was reading today in Jill Bolte Taylor's book, "I wondered how I could have spent so many years in this body, in this form of life, and never really understood that I was just visiting here." As in this was NOT who she was...her circumstances did not define her and she would continue to exist after her death.

I think we take things very seriously; I know I do. I tend to forget that I have many choices and options, most importantly what attitude I take.

Peace, blessings, and love,



Rick Hamrick said...

You know, O, my fascination is not with continuing past the demise of my earth suit, but wondering what the heck was going on before I dropped into my parents' lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

That's my inspiration: figuring out what I was up to before I leaped into my earth suit.

Big D said...

Nice post Rick. I like the Pansy Volunteer button too. If you get some printed up, send me one and I'll wear it with pride. "Start where you are" is a great lesson for all of us. Hope you don't mind if I quote you. Maybe its the kernel for another Rick song?!

Be seeing you.

Kikipotamus said...

Oh, weird. I was born in Chapel Hill, too.

courage collaboration said...

Rick, What a wonderful post, and how I admire the willing and uncomplaining Pansy! And how well it does, in spite of a month of cold rain, too.

Thank you for noting these brave commrades. I will see them differently as I walk out my own front door by three pots of them!

Kirsten Olson

Rick Hamrick said...

Rick -- what a delightful post!!! And the pansy volunteer idea is the best.

Rick Hamrick said...

Rick -

Had no idea you were such a philosopher, although in our few conversations, I suppose I should have known.

I read a book a few years ago that I've recommended to people struggling with the sighing, moaning and backward-looking stuckness that we all seem to be prone to. It's called, "Do One Thing Different."

It talks about how simple action, using patterns we've already used to get unstuck in other situations, often can get us moving again. Same idea as yours here - just find something that needs doing and do it.