The Importance Of Being Constant
I had an epiphany this morning while I was watering my overdue-for-a-drink plants. Bear with me while I set the stage.
I’ve always lived with plants. I like how they brighten up a room. Without them, living space always feels sterile…dead even.
My studio has 16 foot ceilings with a tall bank of windows along the west wall that reach 13 feet in the air. I love having all that space above my head (lots of room for big ideas to germinate). However, I generally work on a fairly intimate scale, so all of the wall space above 7 feet – the highest I can reach without a ladder – has almost always been empty and unused. When I moved in, one of the first things I did was to install a long, thick wooden closet dowel across the width of the space at the height of the windows. On it I hung a selection of greenery: spider plants and long, trailing philodendrons.
Instantly I had my own green oasis, a mini window-jungle that looked dynamic, activated the space up above, and made the studio warm and welcoming.
It was a brilliant idea.
With one major flaw.
Watering the plants requires them to be brought back down to ground level. Regardless of this idea flaw, I’ve insisted the plants stay up there; I don’t have room to settle them on tabletops, and I won’t consider getting rid of them.
A second brilliant idea – a hook on the end of a second long, thick wooden closet dowel – made bringing the plants down slightly less of a hassle.
Slightly – it is not entirely hassle-free. Because it is not entirely hassle-free sometimes the length of time between waterings stretches a little longer than it should.
OK, usually the length of time between waterings is longer than it should be.
I am, I confess, an occasional gardener.
[Note: I’m aware that my penchant for houseplants doesn’t classify me as a “gardener” per se, I’m using the terminology loosely.]
I think about watering more regularly, but often don’t jump to action until my plants threaten to die.
Watering my plants this morning I noted the number of dead yellow leaves on my two Pothos.
I apologized for being irresponsible and made a silent vow to be more of a constant gardener – someone who takes care of her plants in a consistent manner.
Are you ready for the epiphany? ‘Cuz here it comes…
It suddenly occurred to me that up until recently my negligent gardening practice mirrored my studio practice.
In my past practice I have been an occasional gardener – not always present and allowing my practice to go partially dormant in the winter. During this time certain studio responsibilities would be delayed until I was forced to desperately take care of them…
Postponing the documentation of pieces.
Postponing writing about the work.
Postponing applying to galleries.
Waiting until some of the leaves of my practice withered and threatened to die before I was prodded into action.
The problem with “gardening” this way is that your “garden” never flourishes. If you don’t consistently tend your business, your practice, your life, don’t be surprised if it feels stagnant and straggly instead of lush and vibrant. Without faithful care and attention your garden may survive, but it will never grow into its full potential.
I now understand why my career hasn’t blossomed in the way that I wanted it to. Being an occasional gardener only gets you so far.
I think my brain grew 3 sizes today…thank you plants, I promise to give as much attention and care to you as I’m currently giving to my studio practice (accountability powers activate!).
From now on I’m going to strive to be a constant gardener – present and faithful, literally and figuratively – in all facets of my life.
How about you? Are you a constant gardener in your business and/or life? Please add your story to the comments!
Hi Jody. My life is a constant pursuit of art, to be certain. However I think my various plants, if you’ll allow the borrowed metaphor, grow very slowly on account of there are so goddamn many (songwriting, shows at old venues, shows at new venues, painting, graphics, instrumentmaking, and garden design (not a metaphor in this case, but actual garden design, like digging on a hillside. You know what I mean!). Add to this my main method of care is to procrastinate from what should be a priority (new songs!) while concentrating on tasks that simply give me immediate pleasure (hornmaking, drawing bicycles, carving pointy sticks).
Anyway, I feel your pain. Perhaps our slow pace will pay off in the long run. Perhaps we’ll be the people who peak in their late 80’s simply because we’ve taken our sweet time getting there. Here’s hoping.
Hi David – nice to see you here 🙂
Yes, you’re garden plot overfloweth! I do believe that the way you are proceeding, moving forward on many things simultaneously, will take you far, but maybe not quickly. In the past when I had many goals on the go I lovingly referred to this mode of achieving as “sidewardsly mobile at a slight incline”. At this point in my practice, I’m not sure a slow pace will benefit me – currently I have all my plants in one basket. I think the trick to consistent growth – of all “plants” – is to tend everything in an equally present manner…which means I need to not procrastinate on the things that I don’t like doing.
Ironically, the very things I’m resisting giving attention to would actually move my career forward.