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Embrace hope in the face of failure

By on June 14, 2008

photo by ceanandjen

“There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” — Anais Nin

Gardeners are optimists. I realized that as I planted four bare-root perennials. They’d been sitting in a bag for way too long. I completely forgot about them until I was moving a peony bush to a sunnier area. (I should do this in the fall, but was shovel happy) I opened the bag that was still right where I left it weeks ago, and they didn’t look good. But I planted them anyway. I’ll stay hopeful. My mom and daughter watched as I smiled and plunged them into the soil. I told my mom not to ask me why I was bothering in the face of such hopelessness. That’s how I garden: trial and error and with plenty of faith. I’ve made my share of mistakes. Maybe they won’t grow, but I have some time before I find out. Hope and faith are my favorite things about gardening. And about life.

Have you ever had the feeling that something wonderful was going to happen? Maybe you’ve asked others whether they’ve ever felt that way, too. They don’t have a clue what you’re talking about and look at you as if you’ve lost your mind. Not grandiose thoughts, but positive, happy and tangible thoughts, like anything was possible. The best moment isn’t when it actually happens. It’s right before. That’s how I feel about my perennials, too. The odds can be stacked high against me, but my faith defies those odds. I won’t lose hope simply because someone tells me it’s impossible. My hope breathes energy into my decision to do what most people wouldn’t waste their time on. There’s incredible joy during the anticipation.

I hear what many people are saying to me through their letters and personal stories. I’ve been listening, and I understand. Many of you are uncertain about the future or are struggling and beaten down by the cost of living, unemployment, disability, overdue bills or health issues — or you are “trapped by the system.” You’re not alone. But don’t let others define you, and don’t bury your head in the sand. You have to define yourself, own your life and hold yourself accountable for the choices you make every day. If one decision doesn’t work out well for you, try another. Learn from your mistakes, but don’t dwell on them. You’ve got to earn what you want, and that takes a deep desire to do so. It becomes a priority, and you’ve got to want it more than you fear failure.

It can be frustrating. Maybe you feel that nothing is ever going to change. It might take a long time, but you can’t make progress if you never even try — or worse, you give up too soon. Sure, there are rules. I can’t hang my perennials from a rope and expect positive results. So play by the rules, and when the first green leaves begin to unfurl and you see that it wasn’t completely hopeless, success is yours. The happiness you feel wouldn’t be possible without the contrast of your struggles and the history of how it came to be. It’s bittersweet. Most of all, keep the faith.

One Comment

  1. Darlene

    6/19/2008 at 4:31 pm

    This really moved me & I’m having a hard time finding the right words to say…
    Never give up, ask for help if you need it, live well, laugh often, love much and always keep your eyes , heart & soul open to good things. They are all around you.
    Thanks for speaking to so many with this column today Sara. I know it spoke volumes to me.

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