This summer I’ve been doing a lot of gardening. I’ve bought lots of flowers and planted lots of seeds, and not all of these flowers and seeds have made it. Some seeds spring up easily, while others refuse to sprout. Children and animals have knocked over some of my planters, losing soil and seed. Our chickens are causing a bit of havoc, eating some of my flowers, pecking at my green bean plants, and laying on and smashing plenty of others. It’s pretty frustrating, considering the investment of my time, money, and emotions into all of this planting. I thoroughly enjoy gardening, but am continually disppointed when things don’t turn out well.
But then I stop and remember that this loss isn’t some awful evil exception to the rule- loss IS the rule. Death and grief are necessary aspects of life. You can’t have one without the other. In order to taste the fruit of success, you have to taste the bitterness of loss.
There are no guarantees in this life. Not a single one. Just because you set out to do something with all our heart and soul doesn’t mean it’s going to work out.
This realization can be either enslaving or liberating, depending upon how you choose to accept this truth.
In times past, I would ask, “What’s the point? What’s the point of investing in anything when there are no guarantees it will be worth it?” I’ve held myself back because I was afraid of loss and failure. But in doing nothing, I have gained nothing. Instead, I have lost time and opportunities to be successful and happy. Sure, I have saved myself from plenty of failures, but isn’t doing nothing the ultimate failure and betrayal of the very life I’ve been given?
When I accept with open arms the truth that LIFE IS RISK, I can joyfully set out to accomplish whatever my heart desires because I know that loss and failure are normal and to be expected. All these failures of mine are proof that I am, indeed, living. And the times when I am met with fruitful success… oh, how sweet it is! I would never have tasted such goodness if I had not taken a risk. Only by taking risks can you experience life.
There’s simply no getting away from it. Life is just one big massive risk. You can’t escape hardship or failure in this life. It’s going to happen. Tragedy will strike, your heart will break, your efforts will yield no reward. This is not an evil to protect ourselves from, it is simply apart of the life process, and each of these disappointments can teach us a valuable lesson that cannot be learned any other way. No one thinks that a baby falling down countless times while learning to walk is a sign of a dysfunctional universe. We accept it as a necessary process of growth.
Although I’ve experienced several gardening failures this year, I have experienced even more success. I have created beautiful spaces that might not be perfect, but they are beautiful in their own way, a product of my labor and love. And my failures have taught me how to do things better next time. I continue to learn and grow, and one day, just maybe, I’ll actually be really good at this whole gardening thing. But the only way to get there is to do the work, to suffer through the frustrations and losses.
So take a risk. And when you fail, get back up and take another risk. And another. And yet another. This is the only way to learn and eventually succeed. The risk of failure is the only doorway to a meaningful life.