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An Artist's Perspective on Growth

The other day I was buying plants, among them were tomato plants. I said to the cashier "I usually plant these from seeds but I didn't have time to devote to that this year" Cashier: "How long does it take to grow a tomato?" Me: "I usually plant them on the first of March and pick my first tomatoes around the fourth of July" Cashier: "It takes you four months to get a tomato?" Me: "Yes. The garden teaches patience. We plant in a spot that gets the right amount of light for the individual plant, we water it, protect it, and it grows on its own in its own time."


My thought: "It takes EVERYONE four months to get a tomato, whether we see the process over time or not."


What can be seen in nature can be seen throughout our lives. Things take time. This is not to say that we need to wait for something to happen. Cultivation is active and often takes strategy. There is care along the way and watching for ways to support growth.


In the garden, some plants, like cucumbers, need structures to climb. Other plants like tomatoes and peppers need cages to support them against the wind. Leafy greens like cabbages, lettuces, and herbs need protection from too much sun, and from butterflies and moths that eat them and will lay eggs in them — I use neem oil, a natural way to protect them. Berries and fruit trees need protection from birds in the form of netting. Growing a garden is not passive, but at the same time, growth is progressive and cannot be rushed. Slow and steady attention is what is required. We cannot "brute force" growth. Lasting growth is seldom the result of fits and spurts of attention followed by neglect or the inverse. Strong and steady lasting growth is about regular intervals of thoughtful care and patience. Impatience will burn out before the harvest if expectations are not calibrated fairly. Gardeners must pace themselves and be mindful to not over or under water a plant. The gardener does what needs to be done to support growth, and then lets nature do the rest of the work. As it is with all things growth from personal to professional, creative to constructive: intentional growth takes regular thoughtful care, patient oversight, periodic strategy, and time. Here's to the garden that you want to grow, and growing with intention.


What I recommend to my students is building a habit of thoughtful, actionable, practices that will support their regular steady growth. We plant seeds, we tend to them, and we watch them grow.



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