Warning: This is a little depressing. I was going to add a grim reaper to the title but couldn’t figure out how so these words have become your warning. 🙂
Larkspur. There’s a town in Colorado called Larkspur and over by the railroad tracks there was actually larkspur growing wild. Even though the Colorado sun is hot and dry, these little flowers found their way. I thought that the sunny area in my gardens would also grow larkspur well so I bought some and welcomed them home. Cue angels singing, bees buzzing, and the glorious blue flowers waving softly in the breeze.
It did not go well. Not well at all. These plants sat in the soil looking like the dog who thought he was going to the park but ended up at the vet. “What! Just! Happened!?!” They were shocked and never recovered. Was the soil too dry? Too wet? Wrong pH? *Sigh* I don’t know what happened. They looked healthy one day and the next on their way out. Failure.
I don’t care how long you’ve been gardening, the death of a plant is hard to accept. I’ve been gardening for over 30 years but here I am going on about the larkspur. Gardeners don’t get a plant thinking, “Oh! This one will never make it.” We get a plant and have a dream for it, or about it.
Growing a garden takes a good imagination, I think. I see a little plant, look at it’s size expectations, the color, the condition expectations, etc., and imagine where it would belong in my garden. In my mind the plant is healthy, in full bloom, happily thriving in its space and so I dive dive in. I buy that dream. So when that dream dies… ugh. My heart.
My heart wants to realize its dreams and not just in the garden. Recently, a dream of mine died. Promise not to laugh. I wanted to be teacher-of-the-year. Truly. No teacher will tell you this because a good, humble teacher teaches because they love kids so the rewards, pay, etc. don’t matter. B.S. Humans need validation. (Another rant for another day) What I didn’t know when I birthed that dream was how my every waking hour would be consumed by my career in order to reach that goal, as well as all the other dreams I would have to set aside to have it. No more gardening. No more family time.
– I’m going to switch gears here, but just for a minute. Hang in there. –
The phrase, “Bloom Where You’re Planted” is crap. It doesn’t make good gardening sense. If my larkspur lived by that, they would be happy wherever I put them. Flowers bloom where they belong. If I plant a rhododendron in alkaline soil, it’s certainly not going to feel like blooming. We bloom where we belong. It may not sound as holy or whatever. But it’s better. It’s true.
The death of a dream is the slow process of finding where we belong. Thankfully we are more resilient than flowers and don’t just die when we’re not in the right place, or not with the right person, or not in the right job. The knowledge of that doesn’t help our hearts but it does help guide us to the right place.
An easier thing is to trade dreams. Let the old one go in place of a new one. Like, I’ll trade my dream of owning a Camaro Z28 for one of owning a car that doesn’t break down. But that’s not the same.
Sometimes a dream simply dies. And we grieve over it. It’s hard. These dreams are deeper. They are part of who we see ourselves. I saw myself as a teacher who loved children and families and could break through impediments and help kids learn. And then to do it so well that I could show others how to do it and we could finally actually teach. And learn. In love. In joy. In fun. It wasn’t just the teacher-of-the-year award, it was classroom-of-the-year, school-of-the-year. I wanted to remake the whole thing – Ken Robinson the whole thing. (My dreams are not small and attainable – ha!)
Maybe someday I’ll try larkspur again. Or perhaps it’s ok to move on and plant delphinium instead. Gardening I can manage. As far as teaching goes, I’m still trying to find my way.