Five Things We Learn From Plants

{ Jiming Kang Diary}

With the arrival of the New Year, all of us are seeking ways in which we can improve ourselves and the way we live our lives. As New Year’s resolutions pop up left, right and center, it’s understandable for us to feel a little sentimental, very hopeful, and certainly driven to find inspiration in the things that surround us. One of these things are plants.

Five Resolutions You Can Take From Plants

This year, I’d like…

  • To be more patient. Ever watch a plant grow? It takes a while. You can’t sit in front of a plant and watch it physically morph before you. Instead, you tend to notice the growth only after a period of several days, and even then the changes are very subtle. But give it a month or two, and the plant could flourish like you never expected. In the Canteiros nursery there is a tomato plant that has developed many, beautifully red cherry tomatoes over the past month or two. To this day I still remember watering it in its infancy, when it was all contained within a single tire and there was no need for extra support. Likewise, it takes time for people to grow — but when we do, the result is wonderful.
  • To be more present. In our busyness we often forget to notice the little things that can make our days. Plants, however, are always present and receptive to the stimuli we overlook, like the perfect warmth of a early morning sun, the coolness of a sudden summer rain and the wonderful moistness of soil. Like plants, we should appreciate the little environmental factors that can affect us emotionally — like a single ray of sunlight that enters our rooms early in the morning, or the way the warmth of a freshly made acarajé tickles our fingers.
  • To bring joy to others. In what ways do we share happiness? With gestures, words and actions that imply we care about another person’s presence in our lives — and this is exactly what plants do. When plants respond favorably to the human touch, it is not uncommon for us human beings to feel joy and pride in the way our actions are helping another life. Offering someone a plant is another source of great happiness: the action suggests trust, love and hope for better things ahead.
  • To not be afraid of being vulnerable. Plants are very vulnerable creatures. Fail to water a plant for a week and it will wilt, thus showing its true state. Of course this depends on what kind of plant it is (for example, succulents can go weeks without water), but humans are the same. All of us have different degrees of resilience in the face of adversity. But all of us do have a point at which we need to seek help from others, and if there’s anything to learn from plants it is this: that it is okay to express our vulnerability.
  • To leave a mark. The idealists amongst us are big believers in ‘leaving a mark’ on the planet. To ‘change the world’ is not only a very vague goal, but also one that is very hard to achieve. But small steps are certainly achievable, if we share little parts of ourselves that improve or brighten the lives of those around us. In the same way new seedlings can be made from adult plants that already exist, there are parts of us that can be ‘planted’ elsewhere to elicit new life.