Letting go

And what I'm learning for life through self-sufficiency

It is July. It's hot and dry and if I don't water the plants in the garden, there will never be any zucchini or kohlrabi. I try to spend time outside whenever it's a little colder. I pluck. And pick. And marvel. And I try to take each day as it comes.

For me, this is hard.

I am a perfectionist. An idealist.

I can't stand asymmetry - not when it comes to touch, not when it comes to optics.

Or specific numbers - especially numbers that are dividable by two.

The feeling of soil in my hands is unbearable and it gives me goosebumps. It is like touching terra-cotta (I literally can't do it!). Or when someone scratches on a blackboard...

I am afraid of making decisions. Of ulitmateness. Of the loss of control. Of mess. Of chaos.

Some days I feel like this path of living a more natural life, of self-sufficiency, foraging and especially gardening, was the worst idea ever. But then I remember: it is actually my best therapy. And here is why...


What is alive, is unpredictable

When I plant a seed in the dark soil, I give away responsibility. I can't force the seed to germinate and I can't make the seedling take a certain path. I can't tell the slugs which plants they should eat or give the cats all too specific instructions for which plants they're allowed to roll on...

Of all the things that need to be done in a garden, weeding is my favourite. It is easier to me than sowing, which might be odd to other gardeners. But to me, at least by now, it makes sense: with weeding I bring in some sense of order while sowing is completely unpredictable. Even harvesting drives me crazy. Is it really the right time? Should I leave the plant to collect seeds later?

When an animal - be it human or non-human - needs help, I need to help right away. It will disrupt my day and any plan I might have had. So far we have found 3 x 2 baby kittens, one baby bird, a bunch of bees, one of our cats on a tree. And each time we tried to help as well as we could.

Now in summer, there is one source of frustration that is especially present: the lack of rain. We just can't make it rain. It feels odd to write this, because it is so obvious, but humans less anxious than myself have struggled with this fact over the course of time, have tried to find explanations and to gain back control... and I get it!

Over all, there is just one possible conclusion though: what is alive, is unpredictable. And with that, we have to deal. We can try to fight it, cover the earth in a thick second skin made from concrete, try to water the deserts, but there is always just so much that we can do...

For us though, this is not a question of what we can do despite of nature, but because of it...


It gets better

I'm learning to be more patient.

It doesn't help to pull on a plant to make it grow faster. To force a kitten to drink faster, won't work - it would just choke on the milk.

And so there is no other way: breathing, holding out, being patient.


I'm learning to actually do things.

If I want vegetables to grow, I can not quarrel. I have no other chance than to put my doubts and insecurities aside. I have to deal with the fact that what I'm doing might not end up to be a perfect mixed culture. Or that the cucumbers will only grow 2 cm big before they get all dry (why?) and fall off...

And then I realise: it will work. It always works somehow - at least to some point.


I'm learning that it does not have to be perfect.

The beans won't be less delicious when the rows they're planted in are not perfectly symmetrical. Or if not every seed will germinate and there will be gaps between the plants.

The world will not go up in flames, only because there's chaos and imperfection in my garden beds.

It does not have to be perfect, to be perfectly fine.


I'm learning that it's worth it.

It's been a few years since I've started doing more things myself - like growing vegetables, cooking, foraging,... - and I can't imagine going back. Fruit and vegetables that come straight from the plant taste differently. To know that you can get through a (not severe) illness with the herbs you've collected yourself, the remedies you made with your own hands, is empowering. When I bake a cake I can make it in the not so sweet but dark chocolatey way that I personally like it - in a way I will not get it from elsewhere. Being outside, digging in the ground (with gloves on!), watching how things unfold...

I know that it's worth it.


I'm learning that my actions can have an effect.

Self-efficacy. To live a life that has an impact on the outside world. This is precious. It feels good.

No matter how small or big, what I do can have an effect.


I'm learning that I'm clueless and that I can't foresee anything and that I don't have anything under control.

And that this will always be how it is - no matter how much I try to fight against it.

I'm learning that nothing gets better through my worrying - but a lot gets worse.

I'm learning that my impact in this world is small - but that the small things I can do are all the more special.

I'm learning that the only things I can change are my perspective, my rituals, my daily life, my actions - but not what others do and especially not what just... happens.

And I'm learning to let go.

25.07.2019
Nadine