Sunday, August 24, 2008

Life of Plenty

My mother, having grown up on a farm, has always appreciated the benefits of growing one's own food. I had the benefit of growing up with a garden most of my life. After moving to New York City and afterward to Cincinnati I gave up gardening for the pursuit of a career or some sort. And, though I missed gardening, I hadn't realized how much until I had the opportunity to tend to my mother's backyard garden. The picture above is just a small example of what was available just several yards from the back door.

It called to mind the days when I tended my own garden back in Vermont. Most of my gardening was restricted to containers, but the satisfaction of having fresh herbs and vegetables close at hand could not be matched by anything purchased at the local grocery. I don't know why I thought I had to give up growing after I moved from Vermont, perhaps, I thought I had to find a completely new life in the big city. Or, perhaps I just got caught up in the hustle and frenetic pace of living an urban life.

Vermont Garden Harvest, watercolor, 1997
What I find interesting is that as I devote more and more of life to my art, the more I find myself returning to the life I thought I was meant to get away from. I find myself slowing down, taking time to appreciate things, and taking less for granted. This life I live, this devotion to art, is not easy. But, when I look back at my life without art, at the lives of my friends, of the people around the world, I see that no one's life is easy. I think finding an easy life is not the answer to finding a life that is content. Because, even though I find the challenges to devoting my life to art daunting and the most difficult of my life, I also find that I feel the richest and most blessed than I ever have. Contentment is within my reach, I still have some work to do, but I am confident that if I continue to cultivate and nurture my artistic path, that I will have grown my own contentment, just as I grew my own vegetables in the smallest of spaces.

I recently came across an old painting I did, back in Vermont. It was a watercolor of the first peppers and tomatoes that I grew on my own. This painting is now a symbol for me of my ability to grow my own plenty. We all have this ability. Some of us have to pay attention to where we are already cultivating our life. Others might need to get those pots out and stick their hands in the dirt. It is not too late.

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