As I assessed the end of the summer garden, I could see that all of my tall beautiful grasses were overgrown, the bamboo had taken on a life of its own and the butterfly bushes had outgrown their pots. I could see that I needed to transplant as much as I could. But that was just the beginning. The garlic lived in the dark along with some of my other veggies so they did not grow. I had to make the difficult decision of transplanting and horror of all horrors, eliminating some of the overgrown vegetation. In the long run, it is best for the health of many of the plants…. but it is incredibly difficult for me to eliminate even one grass. It’s funny because it is mirroring something going on in my life.. I have realized that I need to do some compassionate gardening with people who don’t have my best interest at heart. Over and over again there would be suggested changes that could improve circumstances, or a practiced forgiveness for repeated behaviors causing the same agitating story.
Now, this is a two way street. I’m sure many have felt the same about me. My behavior and refusal to follow a “real” schedule, not follow the rules, outspoken opinions… might all be a bit much…most don’t seem to mind, but still….. I honestly understand this and let me say, I will never change. I am who I am. Anytime I try to be some other way it causes me a distress that only inauthenticity can cause. I can’t stand to “fake it”. If I don’t feel it then I don’t feel it. Plain and simple. So I understand, if I need to be weeded out of their lives.
Real compassion includes truth. From there wisdom can make a judgment with care and concern; it says some things work for me and some things don’t. I will choose to act only on those things that are informed by this logic.
However there seems to be another step that I need to investigate before taking any action. Am I emotionally charged on this? This is necessary as compassion is not only our ability to be with another’s pain and suffering but also to see and accept our own. Once this is accomplished, what needs to be considered is how many more chances should I or they get? The answer seems to be, we will just know when it’s time.
Yes, I am open-minded and compassionate, but never want to be so open-minded that my brains fall out.
Of course, the picture keeps getting bigger. If someone has a history of cheating, lying and/or stealing, when do I stop giving them another chance? Or do I even go there? Do I just figure that life has a plan for this individual, which I think is probably true, but then where does that leave me and what is my job? Do I still work with this person? Do I forgive them even though they are never accountable? Do I stand in a place of understanding that each person has their lessons and are disguised in drag, if you will, to teach compassion? If they are in drag to teach others how to be compassionate, then do I love from a distance and just understand their role?
Like overgrowth in the garden, the plant living in the shade does not have a chance to live in the light until the shade, or shadow is removed, yes that’s true. But rather than the overgrowth being eliminated maybe it should just be cut down to size and with this adjustment, both can coexist – each understanding the other’s role but definitely staying within their boundaries so that they can thrive. Meaning each plant can do what it is here to do – experience the experience. And with that, to not just blindly accept but be reminded like in that sometimes more than compassion, we need to see with awareness and discrimination.
Compassion is the idea that we want to do good….But that doesn’t mean to say that we have to be gentle all the time. Our gentleness should have heart and strength. In order that compassion doesn’t become idiot compassion, we have to use our intelligence. Otherwise, there could be self-indulgence of thinking that we are creating a compassionate situation when in fact we are feeding the other person’s aggression. If you go to a shop and the shopkeeper cheats you and you go back and let him cheat you again, that doesn’t seem to be a very healthy thing to do.
This is known as wise compassion which has the ability to see the whole situation and aims to bring release from suffering; its opposite is known as blind or idiot compassion, which does not take into account the whole situation and so, while appearing compassionate, is inherently unskillful and may actually increase suffering. For instance, idiot compassion occurs when we support or condone neurosis. Another way to see blind compassion is when we give for our own benefit, not for the recipient’s, because we can’t bear to see them suffering. Our giving has less to do with what they need, but plenty to do with trying to escape our own feelings of inadequacy. This is a more subtle point, but sometimes we can get so impelled to give, that we forget why we are giving or what is actually needed.
Now….back to the garden. I approach the problem with shovel in hand, apologizing to the newly trimmed plant for cutting it down, while thanking it for doing its job. I give the plants that will nourish us – garlic, asparagus and beets a better chance to grow. Choices are being made that will serve the bigger picture while energies are going to where they are actually needed. It seems that life on all levels is a place, a reality where decisions can be made on where the compassionate effort needs to be focused and all the while this interaction is taking place, it is done in wisdom, for the highest good, with an open heart. For we all know that in the end, an open heart is all that really matters.
The Radical Gardener
From My Garden To Yours
May Your Garden Always Grow
Where to Find Free Worm Food
Where can you find more scraps to feed your worms? Your kitchen and yard are primary sources, but if you want more compost, you need more worm food. If the compost is smelling sweet and the worms are reproducing, you may be ready to expand. The more scraps, the more compost. Note: You may need to add trays, expand the capacity of your composter or start an additional composter to keep up with more scraps.
Here are some ideas for sources of free worm food.
Friends & Neighbors
Talk to people who live nearby who might be able to save food scraps for you. They can store scraps in their freezer until you can pick it up or they can drop it off. Make sure they know what types of scraps are suitable – this photo album on Facebook is a great resource: Can I Feed This to My Vermicomposting Worms? Your friends will be happy to know that their organic fruit and vegetable waste is getting reused.
Corrals & Grazing Areas
For those living in rural areas, manure of herbivore species such as horses, cows or rabbits is one of the very best things you can feed your worms. There’s a big difference between manure of carnivore species and herbivore so stay away from dog, cat and human manure. Those types of manure will stink up your worm bins and likely cause you to gag every time you check in on your worms. You can find manure from plant-eating animals in corrals, in pastures or at dairies. Simply check with the animal owners to find out what you can work out together!
Worms love brown corrugated cardboard. It’s one of their favorite things to snack on. The next time you are at your local grocery store, ask someone in the produce department if they have any leftover cardboard boxes that were used to ship in the fresh produce that morning. Chances are, they’ll have more than you can manage. The great thing about brown cardboard used to haul fruits and veggies is that some of the food particles ends up in the cardboard so it gives the worms an extra incentive to eat it. Just remember to shred the cardboard when you put it in your worm bin to facilitate the eating process. It also doubles as bedding.
Remember to follow basic composting guidelines. Don’t over-feed your worms, especially when first starting out. Add more scraps gradually. A bad odor is a sign that you are giving them the wrong foods, or too much food. If this happens, try feeding them a little less food and adding some grass clippings or shredded corrugated cardboard.
Sweet Potato Waffles
Enjoy sweet potato waffles for breakfast.
Get the recipe here.