The Garden analogy – Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

Note: this post is dedicated to a good friend who I met less than a year ago and to all those who are currently working to transition this old and abusive world to a new, more harmonious one where wisdom and love will have more power than greed and hatred and where gardens, not schools may become places where children learn about life.

In the garden I tend to drop my thoughts here and there.  To the flowers I whisper the secrets I keep and the hopes I breathe.  I know they are there to eavesdrop for the angels”.


Lately, I have been reading a bit about Permaculture, in preparation for a course I will take from the UBC Farm next August.

I also grow a garden that has slowly but pervasively invaded all my townhouse deck, the front and part of the tiny backyard: I’m growing different varieties of lettuce, some beans, tomatoes, Chinese broccoli, kale, cucumbers, beets and carrots, a few fruits (blueberries and strawberries), a few edible flowers and all the herbs we consume (basil, coriander, parsley, oregano, thyme, laurel, mint, sage and rosemary)

Being in my garden is my biggest pleasure and offers learning for life. I heal when I’m close to trees, the wilder the better: I have also experienced many other things lately and Permaculture has come to my rescue as its principles resonate with a sort of ancient forgotten value system.

I noticed its values can be applied to gardening but also to life events and decision making when dealing with conflict or difficult situations: Although there are 12 principles, I will only share the three that reflect better what I want to say:

Permaculture Principle #2:

Catch and Store Energy:

(“make hay when the sun shines”)

Why are we so desperate and frantic? Our lives have become “fast” and we are like candles that burn and crash…if Nature teaches us something (mostly in these places where seasons create cycles and patterns) is that there is a time to sow, a time to harvest and a time to relax and enjoy…(I should be applying some of this to my own speed!)

Our society also burns energy for the more trivial things and the goal seems to be “use more, never save, don’t worry about the future”…we turn lights on even when there is sun outside, or use the heat on spring and summer days. We use cars to move a few blocks away and turn TVs on when we should be talking, reading or daydreaming.

Permaculture Principle #4:

Apply Self Regulation and Accept Feedback:

 (“the sins of the fathers are visited on the children until the seventh generation”)

Somewhere I read that this generation (40-60) in the West behave like two-year olds: we don’t accept a no for an answer, we think we can do anything and that the sky is the limit. We want things and we want them “now”. If we are part of a group, we want things to go our way or we may start blaming, complaining or engaging in power struggles, if things don’t go as we expected we ask for a divorce or start cheating, and if the workplace is not perfect, we cheat on our employer, adopt a passive-aggressive attitudes or leave for a better place…and so on!

Well, it is probably time we start accepting that we have limits. That there are things we will never have and things we cannot do. It is time we understand that the Earth is the limit (not the sky) and that if we want to accomplish anything (in our lives, as part of a group, family or at the workplace) better to learn how to accept feedback and regulate ourselves first…

Permaculture Principle #8

Integrate Rather than Segregate

(“many hands make light work”)

OH, I have been struggling with this one lately! We have been taught to follow rules and we (in the West) love guidelines and structures and tend to feel lost without them…this has to be with fear, we fear not being in control we fear chaos, the same fear makes us to label certain plants and insects, and develop strong chemicals to kill them…this is the same fear that keep us from changing our lives even when we know we are destroying the planet. The same fear makes us to discriminate against anything or anybody who is “different”.

It is easier to accept a weed in my garden as I have learned that weeds are just plants that have learned to adapt much better to the type of soil/weather where they are. They do have their function, they are weeds because “we” human beings don’t like what they do to the plants we like…same with pests: there are no real pests in Nature. Every single life being and even those without life have a job, a function and a relation to other beings…this becomes more difficult when the “weed” is a person, a group, an institution or an entire system. What is our first reaction? Fear= weed out.

If we just followed this principle, we may see that what we call deviance, crime, challenging people, etc., may have just be the manifestation that something is terribly ill or wrong with the system we are trying to preserve.

One thing I learned at my Organic Gardening course is that illnesses, invasions and pests are uncommon in Nature: natural beings and systems regulate themselves by adaptation and assimilation processes. Organisms tend to collaborate with each other and rarely compete. Competition happens when there is an unbalance in resources, space, etc. In other words: if you feed the soil and make sure it works as it should, your plants won’t be attacked by pests or “weeds” and “weeds” and “pests” may just become another helpful plant or insect.

In human interactions is the same: broken systems and environments allow feeding the worse on people. This creates “should’s” and “must’s” and people who engage in power struggle, toxic interactions, blaming and judging. This also creates all type of conflicts because people (in both sides) think “the other” is the pest or the weed…funny right? I may be somebody else’s pest!

In Permaculture, the best way to deal with weeds and pests is to strengthen the health of the core system, so “weeds” and “pests” start being less of a conflict and may even help the garden to flourish.

This reminds me of

Permaculture Principle #1:

Observe and Interact.

 (“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”)

Think about that: any “pests” or “weeds” in your life?

What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Permaculte Principle #12:

Creatively use and respond to change

(“Vision is not seeing things as they are but as they will be”)

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