Friday, September 14

There seems to be no limit to a gardener's capacity
to forget where they've left something

1998, Sasquatch Books, Seattle

The sun appeared above the wooded hill early and bright, with a promise of a beautiful day ahead which it didn't keep. I'd happily welcome yet another sunny day because it would mean uninterrupted work in the garden, but the weather turned nasty in the early afternoon. As the gray clouds turned dark, I hastily gathered all the garden tools except one: the pitchfork. I was sure I left it under a tree - but which tree? I ran from tree to tree with no luck. No pitchfork.

The rain started with no introduction. No drizzle...just pure downpour of steady and heavy raindrops. I hurried to the nipa nut and almost fell down. My foot tripped on something hard and steely. And there, on the floor, was my pitchfork. Soaking wet, and angry, I kicked hard at it, and missed, I swear I could almost hear it laughing. My mood that afternoon turned dark as the sky.

I don't usually get angry just because I can't remember where i left something. The word annoyed is more appropriate. Annoyed because instead of using the time for weeding or spading, I'll be roaming around the garden looking for it. While at it, the idea of painting the handles of all my garden tools yellow comes back to mind, but soon forgotten until the next time it happens again.

This bout of short term amnesia must be epidemic. My neighbor, also a gardener like me, often asked if I have borrowed this or that tool. Most of the time I can't even be sure if I did so I'll be looking around the house. If I can't find it, it doesn't mean I didn't. Maybe I just don't remember where I left it. If he can't remember who borrowed it or in fact, nobody did and that he just don't remember where he left it, then definitely I'm not alone suffering from short term amnesia.

I haven't really thought about this dilemma until now. Why do gardeners often forget where they left their tools? What causes them to forget? I was attending a seminar on organic farming with some friends when I asked those questions. A friend has this opinion: A gardener has too many plans for his garden and too little time to do them all. Agreed! Another friend said: A garden tool, especially an old rake, looks like a bean pole and has the color of soil so that it is camouflaged with the surroundings. And I said maybe because our focus is not on the tools. They're on what they're used for and that is, to grow beautiful and heathy plants, to which my neighbor countered: Come on! Why don't you just accept the fact that forgetting is one thing old people are good at. And I said: Oh, yes! That, too.

gift of friendship

Here we are, living in a world so different from the one we used know a few decades ago. What used to be the in thing then is now history. Remember those days when communicating meant writing letters on paper, and that you have to buy postage stamps at the post office to send them? Just thinking about that tedious process makes you winch. Now, mails, or rather emails are sent as easy and as fast as your internet connection can muster in a matter of seconds. Paying monthly bills used to be as tedious too. Imagine those days when you have to be physically there, falling in line with all those people in a long snaking queue. But now, thanks to internet technology, the farthest trip is from where you are to the computer table. It's quite amazing actually, that people have the capacity to adapt and embrace technology as a natural course of modern life.

I could write a few more examples of changes that we all are aware of, but that would be deviating from my main topic. The reason why I chose to write about changes in the first paragraph is to compare them to things that don't.

Love, in all forms, and directed to different people in our lives, didn't and won't change. Though technology has changed how we communicate with each other, basically, it's just the same old Love – that same feeling of warmth and affection that our grandparents and great-grandparents had given and received. Finding love still brings happiness and losing it still brings sadness as it did before.

To have a friend to love, confide and enjoy a moment with, a need which is as old as the sea, won't change. A friend is a gift you give to yourself – the one that needs no elaborate wrapping ... just in its true form and color. Once you acknowledge that gift, you move, not to a necessarily higher level but rather to a unique one. You'll learn to appreciate yourself more - in your capacity to be thoughtful, kind and generous. You will also discover the ability to make people smile or laugh at jokes and at life with all its complexities and random absurdness. And more importantly, that gift makes you want to be a better person.