One of my favorite writer-mentors, Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love and Big Magic to name a few, talks a lot about remaining a student of life. She reminds readers that oftentimes the things that are challenging to us are the first time we’ve encountered them, regardless of our age. So if it’s our first experience with something, why would we assume we’d know what to do or how to proceed? She says that in the student mode, we can be gentler with ourselves and lead with curiosity.
As the summer progressed, I grew more comfortable with the idea that I was a novice at this gardening thing. I was comforted by the thought that people who are really good at gardening, like my grandparents, at one time did not know everything about lawn care, vegetables, and flowers that they did, by the time they seemed like experts to me.
Gardening by trial and error provided me with an opportunity to flex the muscle of being okay with making mistakes. To not seek perfection, and to rely on my creativity and common sense. In this way, this experiment was liberating. It gave me practice in this approach, which I hope helps me operate this way in other areas of my life.
In the past, perfectionism kept me from trying new things because...what if I messed up? Gardening is the adult playground where my actions answer, "so what if you do? If you're having fun, who cares?"