Digging in the Dirt

flowerpotsI love intellectual work, but there's a lot to be said for actually getting your hands dirty. Like when you're re-potting plants. There's quite simply something serene and unequivocally natural about rummaging your hands through earth; playing God in silver Ikea buckets - just add water and hope the roots will take. Is this how surgeons feel when they transplant organs?

As people, how do we know we've outgrown our pots and are ready for more space? How many of us are quite content in our designated pot? Having made peace with the constraints, doubling over and curling up our roots so they might fit without causing pain. How long can we live like that, bending, folding, before we begin cutting off any vital blood supply? We've all had our hands or feet go to sleep, what about our creativity? Our imagination, love? Do they tickle our soul and spirit to alert us to their impending doom? Shake us awake into movement, inviting us to stretch out, because only that exquisite stretch will bring even more exquisite tingling before that most comfortable of reliefs when blood starts flowing again?

Imagine we do stretch and allow ourselves to outgrow our respective pots. As we search for new grounds, how do we make sure the soil is fertile? If we're transplanting existing ecosystems, we want to be careful of their needs. Maintaining the balance between what is needed to maintain, and which changes are necessary to grow and make the most of the new environment can be challenging. If you're starting a new business, you do market research. If you're starting new relationships, it's more important to research yourself. Avoid using the same soil (patterns) to allow new love to bloom (literally and figuratively). If you're trying out new typological behaviors, practice practice practice.

Speaking of which, what is the right amount of manure to stimulate growth? It can't all be sunlight and sprinkles, we need a little fertilizer to jolt our buds into action. It's ok to make mistakes - just pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and keep on trying. And what if we choose too big a pot? Do we stretch to the left, and stretch to the right, looking for the comforting walls of our limitations? Will stretching too far in opposite directions leave us fragmented, broken at the center?

Will we lose hope and start spinning if we continue to give up before reaching those walls?

What about expat spouses who are uprooted against their wishes? If the roots are clipped too tightly, no amount of fertile soil, sunlight or flawless irrigation will allow the plant to grow. Personally, I believe that is one of the reasons why repatriation is so stressful: once a plant has known a bigger ground, it's nigh impossible going back to the previous one.

Is it time you started looking for a different pot?

Because of the title and since I love him, here's Peter Gabriel and his beautiful voice and poetic lyrics: