Normally, fear is a pretty healthy thing. It holds us back. Fear buckles our seatbelts. It tells us to chew our food, to not run with scissors, to look both ways before crossing the street. It puts a helmet on our heads when we go bicycling. It keeps us from doing stupid things like shooting guns in the air, cooking up homemade drugs and studying communist philosophy.
But fear is a killer. It strangles our dreams. It holds us back. It binds us. Fear is an abortionist. It tells us it's okay to quit before we even get started.
"You'll fail," it says. "You'll look like an idiot." And sometimes, she's right. For those dreaming of foolhardy things like starting magazines and blogs and making films, perhaps a bit more fear is what the world needs to spare us from misery. Fear may be a killer, but sometimes she's a mercy killer.
But not when it comes to gardening. "Get real," she scoffs as you walk the aisles of the garden center. You look at all the beautiful, blooming plants and just as you begin to imagine them flourishing in your own backyard, your mind is seized with white terror. "You'd kill all of these in two weeks flat." You get that sinking feeling. Dread. "Your yard will never look like the ones on your Pinboard. The only way a photo of your garden would go viral is with the caption: Nailed It!"
You know I'm right. Why don't we garden? It's not about the time. It's not about the expense. It's not because we don't desire, deep within us, to grow something. No, the number one reason we don't garden, by a wide margin, is because we are afraid. We live with fear. It paralyzes us. We feel hopeless.
But gardening requires hope. Indeed, it asks for little else. Just hope.
Hope is often unreasonable. It makes no sense. It is the substance of daydreams, the evidence of the invisible. But when it comes to gardening, the hope is quite reasonable.
There is no mystery about growing things. There are few laws of nature upon which we can depend so thoroughly. Do you hope in gravity? You know for a fact that what goes up must come down. Why then is it so hard to understand that what goes down must grow up?
Seed time and harvest come in turn every single year, generation upon generation. It has been so since the dawn of time. You reap what you sow. If gardeners do their part, they have good reason to hope for the greatest of miracles: growth.