Plant your Garden
This past week I planted a small vegetable garden. I love to watch the plants grow taller. I get excited when they blossom, when a tiny fruit starts to grow. But it takes care to keep them going and you have to get your hands dirty.
Tending a garden takes time. You have to pay attention to what your plants need and there is no guarantee of a bountiful outcome. A caterpillar could come along and eat up a plant overnight. You could fail to care for them and they could whither. But when you get it right, when you taste that first homegrown tomato, you know it was worth the effort. Then, if you’re really lucky, you'll end up with a bounty of goodness that you can share with others.
Cultivating friendships is like tending a garden. You have to build a healthy base, put in the time and effort, nurture it along. Then you risk the chance that it might not thrive.
What if there was an easier way? A way you could avoid the mess, the work, the uncertainty?
I guess I could find pictures of tomato and pepper plants and post them to my website. When I felt like it, I could look at them, captured in their perfect state, and pretend that they were my real garden. They’d be there waiting, not really needing any care from me. But that wouldn’t come close to the experience of having an actual garden.
The internet has been a great way for people to connect, stay in touch, but I wonder if the social media sites have lulled us into believing that virtual friendships are as good as the real thing. When you have 584 friends on FB, you don't even notice if you lose one. But that same distance that protects us from feeling the loss is the same one that keeps us from experiencing the gift of true personal connection.
Make room in your life to grow some organic friendships. Ones you have to nurture, that need your encouragement, that you get to watch mature. I am lucky to have real friends. Friendships that have weathered the droughts and grown stronger. We’ve encouraged each other to stretch and grow, celebrated in each other’s victories, shared each other’s grief. They're friends that make my life bountiful.
Virtual friends are great but if you can find the time, grow some real friends of your own. I hope every generation gets their hands dirty, sows the seeds that produce the kind of friendships that last through decades. The payoff will be worth the effort.