I can live in an apartment with almost no furniture, but not without plants. 18 months after having moved into my precious little oasis by the river, I realise now why I was led here.
It is not my destiny to ever own my own a house and garden (it would tie me down to a place and I need to remain footloose and fancy-free), and I strongly believe that everything has a purpose and reason in life. Every decision, every person, and every place we end up in or are led to, has something to offer, to teach or to experience so we may better understand the world and ourselves. The catch is, unfortunately, we never understood the WHY of that very moment, and sometimes we find the answer only 10 or 20 years later, only if we are ready to embrace it.
Having lived most of my life as a city girl (Culiacan, Mexico DF, Manila, Delhi, Bangkok, Berlin), small town life is not for me and will probably spell my death if I end up in it. I am too restless to settle into a fixed routine day in and day out for the rest of my life. I need structure, yes, but routines are boring and grate away at your soul, leaving nothing but plain, hollow existence.
That is not living or what living is all about.
The actual purpose as to why I am in Berlin and battling it out here when I could be more comfortable and less lonely in the Philippines, is still a mystery to me. At the moment I feel as though I should be renamed Job, having been stripped of everything I held dear, and struggling to understand why, how to go on, and searching for answers. Like in the biblical version of Job’s story, there are days when I truly feel as though God and Satan have made a bet to see how much I can endure before I break.
If you remember my closing words the other day, patience and attitude are what get me through the darkness, and sustain me during the storms. Cats and plants, I find, are wonderful teachers in patience and attitude. Growth cannot be forced, nor can love and friendship. You have to earn the respect and trust of the cat as well as the plant before they choose to flourish under your care and guiding hand. It is not enough to simply provide food, water, fresh air and sunshine, but a genuine bond and commitment to the existence of both cats and plants alike is fundamental. Understand the subtle messages of the two, figure out what the individual needs and quirks are, and know when you have gone too far, too soon or are too late. A cat will define the limits by hissing or scratching back, a plant will turn yellow or dry up. Do the right thing with awareness, affinity, sensitivity, and mindfulness, you will be rewarded with purrs, blossoms and sprouts.
I am far from being a passionate gardener, or even a knowledgeable one, and half the time I plant things on a wing and a prayer, unsure of what the outcome will be. Mistakes have been undeniably manifold, but I have also learned that if you trim down as far as possible and literally start over, there is always hope that something will come it. In other cases, I have also had to accept defeat and let go permanently.
Plants that were my Waterloo in the past have given me a second chance – gardenias and lavender, for example. I screwed up royally this summer with my lavender, but with patience and a lot of love there are two small pots recovering on the window sill. Gardenias are one most romantic flowers in my life, but also difficult to grow outside of Asia (at least I find so). I have failed miserably in the past with gardenias on two continents and I am hoping that this recently planted flower box will be more favourable.
The sermon during mass this morning gave me an interesting insight: success is not about ability or inability, it is all about availability. This, I realised, is the secret to any successful relationship, friendship, job, and applies perfectly to my cats and plants. They need my time as much as I need theirs. Nothing grows overnight.