Last year I had an explosion of gorgeous chocolate sunflowers. Deep red petals in the sun, true beauty in their dark faces. So I saved them because I am the mistress of my garden and I believe in participating in the cycle of nature. I have a city of seed saving in my garage – white cosmos, zinnias, bachelor buttons and a collection of other things.
This morning I’m absorbed in the only somewhat painstaking task of flicking the seeds from the floppy dried heads of chocolate sunflowers, and there it is. A small worm, fat but only half the length of the nail on my pinkie. Then another. And another. They are crawling everywhere, and I notice that most of the seeds have one clean and tiny hole in them. Gross. Flower after flower, seed after seed after seed are crawling with baby worms.
And I think, here it is. As it ever was.
Humankind will not go down in a dramatic firey flame. It will be a little worm, or a small bug that gets in and eats away at that one essential element that we don’t know is the essential element until it’s gone. This is how it ever was.
We collect seeds for the next year, and the bugs and worms eat them. We pick them out, eagle-eye our beautiful seeds, and maybe if we are lucky we’ll have enough to plant. And maybe if we are lucky we’ll have a few come up. If we have nearly enough to eat then it will be worth it.
I’ve been thinking lately about the relationship of pain and bliss. One of my most beautiful friends recently died of an excruciating disease well before her time. She died with courage and compassion, awake. To what degree does the struggle in my life make my happiness sweeter, and to what degree does struggling just get me into the groove of suffering? Impossible to know, perhaps, without help or perspective.
My seeds aren’t my only garden struggle. My frangrant tulsi in organic cold pressed jojoba oil this year got moldy. I tended it daily but no mistaking that acrid smell of my lovely expensive oil gone rancid.
And yet, I will do it again.
I will practice – collecting seeds, making oils. Because in this crazy cyber-world, it ties me to the earth. It ties me to the history of those who went before, when the food went bad, when the seeds were eaten, when the earth determined in its impersonal yet I guess perfect way who lived and died and how that might unfold.
My heart breaks for people who are getting depressed because everyone’s Facebook page looks so much more interesting than theirs. Come on. We all know it’s not real. We all know that we are presenting a goofy, shiny, off kilter version of who we are.
Be authentic but look cute doing it, I call it. Life just isn’t like that.
So what do we do? We comfort each other. We save seeds. We make oils and share the best of ourselves as best we can and maybe, maybe not we actually touch one another. Look to nature. It’s messy and muddy and achingly beautiful.
You are nature, thus you are messy and muddy and achingly beautiful too.
(translation: “How it is”, in Navaho)