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Day 5: Watering Plants

Updated: Jan 9, 2022

After a rushed morning of sleeping too late, getting breakfast in my stomach, treating clients, and completing a couple of office tasks, I wondered where my nature spirit self had been in the morning’s chaos. This thought arose as I was filling the watering can to water the plants in my office. Perfect, I thought, so how can I approach watering these plants with that energy?

A few minutes later I realized, as I emptied the can for the first two plants, that I normally focus my attention on the soil and water tray underneath the pot to assess whether I have watered the plants enough.

Taking that approach has meant that I actually have been completely ignoring the plants themselves!

While I have been proud of myself for helping these beings stay alive (I have a long history of having a brown thumb, interestingly), I have not actually been connecting with them as I’ve fed them. Watering them has just been another task to complete, with the secondary benefit of feeding a sense of pride that I have been properly caring for them. I now realize that I wasn’t, in fact, properly caring for them. I was just completing a task, but not actually connecting with them.

After watching my attention and behavior with the first two plants, I approached the rest of them differently. I asked each one to tell me when enough was enough. The first time I did, with a bamboo, I hesitated, not wanting to take my eyes off where the water was going for fear of overflowing the pot. A moment’s heart-centered glimpse of the bamboo itself revealed its genuine gratitude for my care. It was eye-opening as I felt the words “Oh, hi!” arise.

With the remaining plants, I was less hesitant to keep my focus on the plant itself and not the flow of water. They were eager to share their wishes with me. One was clear for me to stop way before I would have otherwise. Others wanted me to keep going. Two of them specifically said they wanted me to water them on a different schedule - more frequently with less water each time.

I returned to the first two plants I had approached in my focus-only-on-what-I-was-doing way. There were some dead, dry leaves on them that I decided to cut off. During that process of trimming, I had the thought to leave some of the “dead” leaves on as well as those which were very dry at their tips but still green closer to their base. I am not sure whether that thought originated from me or from the plant itself (cause maybe this is all just a bunch of hooey and I’m fooling myself into thinking I’m actually communicating with plants), but I honored that thought and let several of the “dead” or “half-dead” leaves attached.

Something so simple, something I have done countless times, with a simple reorganization of my approach, led to a surprising aha. I am somewhat embarrassed I haven’t approached them this way sooner, wondering what else I have been missing. Where else have I been focused on a certain (arguably arbitrary) indicator of feedback and have therefore missed a true, heartfelt connection? That thought will sit with me for a while.

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