All of us are lonely. All of us feel inadequate. Just part of the human pot. We yearn for more–fulfillment, use of our inner potential, and making some difference that matters. We desperately want to connect, grow and be accepted. Impress others. We deeply believe that our job will help define us and fill in the perceived and real gaps in our persona and life. But the other side of our brain or probably our hearts know that a job and a job title have little to do with who we truly are. We would rather answer the question, "What do you do?" than "Who are you?"
Like bad relationships and marriages it all starts with party manners, pretense, egos and looking good. You know, faking it til you make it. Putting on airs to project an image that you want not who we are. All of this comes crashing down in the end, because we can't be undercover agents forever. Time bombs start ticking until the "crises" of consciousness. The real WTF moment(s) of how we are spending/wasting our life.
Is this all there is? Is this where I am supposed to be?
We think of employment like dating. We try on a few jobs to seek a "permanent" partner. Then, like in many marriages, we settle for the best available or the best that will have you. Of course many of these unions work out and they can endure, but many more end in "divorce" initiated by either side. "Irreconcilable differences."
We get stuck and our energy, ambitions, and potential get root bound in a place that no longer nurtures us. We resign ourselves to wait it out for a time ahead where the pastures are greener, brighter and better. We hope someone/something will rescue us. The career/life mirage that remains mysteriously unreachable.
Was paired up with a woman on the golf course the other day. She was chatty so I listened intently and then we got to real life stuff. She said she wished she had a job like mine, but "I have to work for 10 more years before I can do what I want." Sound familiar? To me it sounds like a prisoner dreaming of her release.
Maybe you are one of the people that owns the crystal ball that will tell you what is going to happen in a decade. Whether you will be healthy. Whether your employer or industry will even exist. In the current time warp, 10 years is impossible to visualize. Yet we defer our dreams.
Then our conversation went into a unexpected black hole of ambiguity, self-deception, and comic relief.
I said, "What is it you want to do?" You would have thought I asked her about Astro Physics, the origin of life or her husband's relationship with his mother. After momentary shock she starting making up stuff. She talked about her kids, said the word"painting", was not sure if it was a verb or noun. Then, looking as if she found a golden ticket, she blurted out "gardening!" A smile flashed across her face. I said, "It seems like you love gardening." "I do!" she replied.
"Tell me about this gardening you dream to do. Flowers, vegetables, herbs, succulents, bonsai………" She heard the words and realized she was in an intellectual cul de sac and she turned around in a hurry. "I only think I would garden an hour or so a week." (People say the craziest things to themselves and to strangers) "Oh! I said. "Why couldn't you do that now?", I queried. I smiled and added, "You probably spend more time watching golf on tv?" (hahaha, not) She defended her potted plant status told me how "busy" she was and implying how important she is–violating every Kobara rule! How quickly our true self seeks the safe darkness of silence.
We went back to our individual golf, far away from the light of authenticity, vulnerability and curiosity.
Actions are the seed of fate, deeds grow into destiny. Harry S. Truman
If she loves gardening, there is no way she would do it for just an hour. Being outside in nature, the soil, the seeds, the time to contemplate life—the meditation that gardening is would transport her. She would start connecting to other gardeners and plants she never heard of. Her network and outlook would be transformed and energized. Does she really like gardening?
Check out what my friend the Gangsta Gardener, Ron Finley , has done with his garden and gardening.
Doing what you love now, even in small dosages–planting seeds, is the path to your purpose. Your job/career is a vital part of your growth, self discovery and journey. Dig in deeper there. A single job will not fulfill all of your needs. Like a single relationship can never be enough to satisfy you. You need a multifaceted life that is driven by your interests, empathy, and questions–experiment and plant a diverse garden you like.
But you have to act and do something in the now.
Why not break out and start gardening today?
Thanks for reading. John
4 thoughts on “Are you a potted plant looking for a garden?”
Brisa and I just read your article out loud to each other. Such a nice morning wake up.
“Let us be grateful for the people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom” Marcel Proust
Thank you! Yes make room every day for a little gardening and to water that Sequoia tree! ;).
Love that Proust quote. Not quite aligned with this post, but a wonderful sentiment that I agree with. Cheers John
While I know this wasn’t an article written to me, I certainly feel like it is:)! I have been feeling very stuck in trying to figure out what it is I really want to do and what brings the most fulfillment (both in career and life). It’s odd not to have a vision when there was a long stretch of knowing with great certainty. I love your advice of planting seeds in small dosages and planting in several areas. I am going to start doing this and see where the path takes me. It’s a time of opportunity I know, but sure feels like there is a lot of planting to do before seeing what grows:) Thank you John!
On one level I am glad when my words resonate. I have found these feelings to be quite common. Glad you see the opportunity to work your way through it. You have devoted so much of your life to others, to honor others, to make the world a better place. Believe me I know that there are many mundane things that seem unrelated to the work we enjoy most. While diversifying your portfolio and venturing out beyond the rim of the pot will yield great benefits, there is much to say about what a difference you make though your kindness and care everyday. Paulo Coelho wrote about a Chinese bamboo that grows completely underground for 60 months and then breaks ground once it is ready. It grows about an inch and 3/4 everyday until it gets to 75 feet! Sometimes the growth is invisible and then it explodes. All the best. John