Gardening is magic; and I’m not speaking in hyperbole. I actually mean honest-to-goodness magic.
If you’ve ever watched a plant grow from seed, and then received nourishment from its produce, you’ll recognize there’s something incredible, as in beyond credibility -beyond belief, in the way that that our environment works so hard to provide for us.
The web of inter-dependencies that sustains our ability to live is intricate, almost beyond imagination. And as much as modern science would like to believe it knows and understands the world, that same world grows and changes with new discoveries all the time…almost daily, even.
The older I get, the less I’m sure that I know. But I think I know this, at least. Gardening is magic in the same way that conception and birth are magic. The same way that one can experience a synchronicity; being at just such the right time and place to witness, briefly, the sublime inter-connectedness of their life with everything else.
Everything is the same thing. Life is trying to live itself and we’re more or less its audience. God is everything. We’re God, you and I; just not the most impressive bits of it/them. “Nature” isn’t a thing, but that everything-ness around us we call Nature, is most certainly God too, in a bigger sense.
We’re also Nature. We’re a fairly impressive bit of nature, actually.
Yet when we (try to) live “on the earth” rather than “of the earth”, by acting as consumers, we do obvious harm to our environment. Perhaps less obviously, we do great harm to ourselves by disturbing the inter-dependencies which so diligently work to support our way of life.
For example, we need iron and fiber in our diets, and so we consume greens.
There are a lot of us, so these greens are mass-produced through agriculture, which is difficult to manage at scale and tends to cause ecological imbalances, attracting pests and disease. So we create chemicals to make this process more manageable, and let’s not forget, more profitable.
No (human) system is perfect, so there are more problems which require solutions. The supply chain relies on produce predictably flowing through a centralized system, which requires preservatives (more chemicals), and GMOs. More disruptions to the natural system -the original system- spawn more issues and create more opportunities for greed to affect our food supply.
We’re playing God, rather than being God…
But God is sublime.
God is both chaos and order, and this paradox resolves itself through balance. God is the balance of all things and they/it will neither suffer too much chaos, nor too much order. When we try to control everything, to reduce everything to its bits and parts, and treat life like some machine that can be improved through superior engineering, we lose sight of the sublime; and the divine with it.
There IS magic in the world and you don’t have to look very hard to see it.
When we participate respectfully in the regenerative cycles of life, death, and rebirth on this planet (something Donna J. Haraway calls “living and dying well together“), the results are exponentially, and mutually, beneficial.
That’s incredible…most human systems can’t boast consistently exponential returns. And those that can, or attempt to, take a terrible toll in the process. But that thing we call Nature produces exponential returns in myriad forms of life on Earth.
Consider the tenacious cantaloupe. One plant. 3-4 fruits at least. Dozens and dozens of seeds, wrapped in a juicy (and delicious) layer of pure energy, packaged for the next generation of plants which will spring from the remains of its predecessor.
A single cantaloupe plant can turn into a patch, if the conditions are right.
Would that my stock portfolio have the same potential…
We’ve lost our way, and potentially, a bit of our humanity as well. The march of progress drove us so quickly to believe in our ability to solve problems, while failing to recognize they were all of our own creation. The answer isn’t more technology, more chemicals, more regulations, etc…
Less IS more.
Consumptive systems are reductive. They create LESS in the world. They rob the world of something it may need later and can’t reproduce.
Regenerative systems are exponential. They create MORE in the world -and require less effort over time. Earth’s uncanny ability to create MORE where there was previously LESS, again and again, against all odds, is remarkable…magical even.
The world’s a big and scary place sometimes. Threats like climate change, political instability, viruses -or whatever- and so on, are around every corner. Finding and maintaining hope is daunting and real change seems so impossibly distant when you look at the problems from a top-down perspective.
It’s when you realize that all you can do is keep looking up, tackling these issues from the bottom up, that you can gain power through perspective.
Even a few people living regenerative lifestyles can produce meaningful results, in their community.
If I provide habitats for bees and birds, and lots of flowers to pollinate, every garden in my neighborhood will benefit. That doesn’t require heroic thinking. It isn’t an end-game solution. It’s a simple, but meaningful, practice which positively impacts my immediate vicinity -my community.
Gardening IS magic. Everything about gardening is magical, from the miracle of life sprouting from DNA encoded in a seed, to the exponential growth encoded in the formula of life, death, and rebirth.
1 + 1 = 3
This is how Earth does math. LESS becomes MORE through entropy.
Human systems move from MORE to LESS. Earth systems move from LESS to MORE. Every plant in my garden could grow dozens more just like it, effortlessly, simply by participating in a willing environment.
Humans have an incurable addiction to control. To the ordering and organizing of things into systems. Systems foster industrialization, which inevitably standardize and commoditize their output, robbing the material of its spirit, for efficiency’s sake.
That which we call Nature, Earth, is very much alive and it very much does not share our anthropocentric perspective. Earth is God(dess). We are Earth. We know this…we know we can’t keep living like this…we don’t even approve of our own actions.
We’re all individually horrified, but collectively pacified. Or, at least, frozen in fear like a deer in headlights because of the insurmountably of it all. Because the problem is so big and all our sci-fi solutions only cause more problems.
Earth doesn’t play zero-sum games.
The great lie of civilization is that there are only enough resources for a few of us. The result is that most of us must do without.
Earth-systems, meaning systems of the Earth -literally, systems grown from the Earth, evolved here on this planet through many, many reincarnations- like DNA, of plants, animals, fungi, etc. These living systems are subroutines which execute in the cycles of the operating system that is the Earth.
Growing, tending, feeding, watering…building habitats, making space for the other-than-human, puts us in Place. It connects us to the cycles of time, which are intrinsically connected to the stars, and the divine. It gives us space to learn the ways of plants, fungi, bacteria, bees, pests, pest-predators, and many other intricacies of our environment.
Everything about gardening is magical.