It’s rare you can eat chocolate and simultaneously get a serving of fruit/vegetables. However, these brownish-purple tomatoes live up to their name Chocolate Cherry.
My mouth watered as I picked them, but I had nagging unease. The pansies bordering my little garden needed deadheading. I’d already spent ten minutes picking the lettuce and another ten minutes picking the raspberries. My precious early morning was slipping away and I wanted to be at my computer writing. I also wanted to be relaxing on my porch with a cup of coffee.
Feeling my unease, I paused. Let the realization sink in. I couldn’t enjoy all of these things at the same time, and I didn’t need to harken back to high school economics to understand opportunity cost. Part of accepting adulthood is understanding we have to make tough choices.
When we don’t choose–when we try to enjoy two opposing realities–we’re never at ease. We’re stressed. We complain. We make ourselves miserable, and I dare say those around us miserable, too.
Another example…getting frustrated because I expected my manuscript back from my editor last week and who knows when it’ll arrive? I made the choice to be a writer and to enter into a publishing agreement. At the time, I knew publishing can be agonizingly slow. I knew I wouldn’t have control over the schedule as my book progressed through editing and design. I chose one and not the other. I can’t enjoy both. And as long as I don’t accept that, I won’t be at ease. I’ll be stressed. I’ll be miserable…you get the picture.
So I popped one those chocolates in my mouth and I remembered the choice I’d made to plant my garden and care for it. Did I want to change my mind now? I’m free to let the garden go and sit on my porch and drink coffee. Do I want to be a writer with a book coming out with a respected publisher? Or do I want to control over my schedule?
Everyday, these choices lie before us. Large and small. If we don’t look at the opportunity cost fair and square and choose the price we’re willing to pay–we’re choosing misery over happiness.
Do you think this is true? Or a bunch of bunk? I'd love to know what you think. Go ahead and leave a comment.
Why Writers Need a Green Thumb
Ate my first tomato from the garden!
I know, can you believe how tiny it is?
I love digging in the dirt and planting seeds. I go crazy at the nursery over the colorful pansies and begonias. And I feel great satisfaction transplanting tomatoes from the local greenhouse and seeing fresh, green shoots come up.
But we usually have a long, cool June here, and waiting for everything to grow, I grow impatient. Definite parallels exist between gardening and the writing life.
Same time I planted my garden, I polished a draft of my next book. When the pub date shifted from fall of 2013 to spring of 2014, my impatience...well, it had a growth spurt.
“I’ll probably be dead by then!” I wanted to scream at my editor.
But my tiny and fragile basil seedlings sat under a grow light next to my desk. I couldn’t raise my voice in their presence.
Gardening requires diligent work: preparing the earth, planting seeds, watering and fertilizing. But there’s a point where the gardener must let go and wait. No amount of effort will make the plants grow, bloom and produce. Same with a book. Once it’s been written and sent off to the publisher, it’s out of my hands.
In the next month I’ll go out to my garden, pull a few weeds, stake a few vines, pinch off extraneous shoots. But I recognize a lot depends on the weather, whether the bees come round and pollinate, and the pests and diseases that threaten my crops.
With a book, there’s always more a writer can do in terms of promotion, but you can’t force a publisher to publish it, and you can’t force people to buy it, anymore than a gardener can force a tomato to ripen.
This season I’m bringing my green thumb inside to my writing desk. I’m letting go of the anxiety, and the mistaken notion of control. I’m choosing to trust that my hard work and attention to the details of the craft will flower and fruit.
Meanwhile, I’ll enjoy the lettuce.
What do you do to carry your excitement through while waiting...and waiting...and waiting?
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