Last weekend, I decided I’d finally do something with the pile of dirt behind my house and plant a little flower garden.
What started out with what was supposed to be a fun and relaxing project turned into a 24-hour self-induced anxiety attack.
First of all – it is mid-May and the nurseries, one of the only places open during a global pandemic, are having a hard time following the 2-meter-distance-protocol.
Secondly, the sheer number of plants to choose from is paralyzing.
Then there were the needs to consider, like what kind of soil do they require? How much sun do they need? How often would they need watering? What are their preferred companions?
I spent two hours walking around in circles, my heart rate getting faster with each name tag I read out loud to my friend, who was providing moral support on the phone: Firetail, Bee Balm, Black-Eyed Susan, Joe Pye Weed, Japanese Spurge, Boneset, Yarrow, Cranesbill, Scarlet Lonicera, Rose of Sharon, Lavender, and on and on.
“I can’t do this!” I cried out loud. “I have no idea what I’m doing?! How do I decide? What if I kill them?”
“Listen”, she said. “Just put them in the ground and see what happens.”
The wisdom in this advice made me pause and laugh and I started to calm down.
At what point did I suddenly think I had to be a flower expert?
It made me wonder why I let myself default to this mindset, the one that tells me I have to have everything figured out all the time.
This last year has been precious to me. It’s given me the opportunity to pause and reflect on what leadership means to me in a culture that teaches us that we’re supposed to have our shit together, a culture that teaches us that we’re not supposed to ask for help.
If we take this year as an opportunity to think differently, what can we learn from the values of disability culture that embraces interdependence, slowness, community, and unconventional ways of relating to and communicating with each other and our environment?
I want to be the kind of person who can say, for instance, (thank you Marsha): “I don’t have my isht together either.”
At the very least, I want to be able to say that I’m comfortable putting things in the ground and seeing what happens.
Speaking of things in the ground, let’s hear it for the recent uprising of the cicadas!