With spring in the air, well not in Wisconsin but I hear it is occurring elsewhere in the country, thoughts turn to planting – flowers, vegetables, herbs. And while I have what can only be described as a ‘brown thumb’ – I can’t seem to care for live plants to save my soul – I have an extreme appreciation for the conditions necessary to allow good things to grow and thrive. I know with great certainty that regardless of what it is you are trying to encourage and support, the soil in which it is expected to bloom is the absolute essential ingredient to success.
I have been paying attention for several years to the ‘soil’ that allows relationships to flourish. I read an awesome book a few years ago called, “Farmacology”. The author, a primary care doctor, found herself frustrated by an inability to help some of her patients realize the health and well being they were in search of. Rather serendipitously, she ended up exploring the role of what we ate as it relates to our ability to address disease and injury. This led her to taking a close look at the connection between nutritional value of food and the environment in which it was grown. She ended up interviewing lots of farmers who, to a person, insisted that “it’s all about the soil”. It got me thinking that this is probably true of a lot of things – well beyond the discussion of what we eat.
Think about it. Whether we are talking about plants or relationships, both are most apt to be satisfying and a source of joy when they are being grown from a healthy, nurturing base. This typically involves a deliberate effort to keep the soil (or base) free of poisons, well watered and exposed to lots of sun. In addition, regular checks to be sure there’s the proper balance of nutrients is essential as well as a commitment to occasionally getting down on your knees to do some digging in order to keep the soil tilled and open to accept what nature brings.
I love this idea of looking at the relationships in our lives – as a family member, friend, co-worker or neighbor – through this lens and seeing the opportunities and responsibilities that exist to keep relationships healthy. We can begin to ask ourselves questions like,
- “What can I do to make this relationship have the best chance of survival?”
- “Am I poisoning the soil with my cynical mood?”
- “Do I expect things to improve without putting in some hard work myself?”
When I think about where I go wrong with the plants I try to grow, it always comes around to a certain degree of neglect on my part. I am inattentive to the soil in which they are trying to grow, I only water them when they look a bit droopy, and I rarely give them any plant food. As a result, I get exactly the plants I deserve – those with limited potential for becoming the flowering beauty I know I would enjoy. I am trying to be sure I don’t take the same approach to the relationships I have with people in my life.