Each year I have great expectations of my backyard garden. I start the year turning the compost into the soil and buying dozens of seeds to sow. As I plant, I think about my dad's garden and how bountiful it was. Each spring, after last year's mediocre harvest, I tell myself that this year will be different. Yes, this year I will water. I will brave the mosquitos and the heat. I will figure out what's making those holes in the leaves. But every year brings the same yield. Enough, but not abundant.
Enough, but not abundant. That sounds familiar...not just in my garden, but in my life.
"The Seven of Pentacles"
by Marge Piercy
Under a sky the color of pea soup
she is looking at her work growing away there
actively, thickly like grapevines or pole beans
as things grow in the real world, slowly enough.
If you tend them properly, if you mulch, if you water,
if you provide birds that eat insects a home and winter food,
if the sun shines and you pick off caterpillars,
if the praying mantis comes and the lady bugs and the bees,
then the plants flourish, but at their own internal clock.
Connections are made slowly, sometimes they grow underground.
You cannot tell always by looking what is happening.
More than half a tree is spread out in the soil under your feet.
Penetrate quietly as the earthworm that blows no trumpet.
Fight persistently as the creeper that brings down the tree.
Spread like the squash plant that overruns the garden.
Gnaw in the dark and use the sun to make sugar.
Weave real connections, create real nodes, build real houses.
Live a life you can endure: make love that is loving.
Keep tangling and interweaving and taking more in,
a thicket and bramble wilderness to the outside but to us
interconnected with rabbit runs and burrows and lairs.
Live as if you liked yourself, and it may happen:
reach out, keep reaching out, keep bringing in.
This is how we are going to live for a long time: not always,
for every gardener knows that after the digging, after the planting,
after the long season of tending and growth, the harvest comes.
If I'm honest with myself, I have tended to push toward the vision for my life just as I garden: in fits and spurts. But people who cultivate their gardens every day are the ones who make the most impact. "Fight persistently as the creeper that brings down the tree." How persistent is your growth? How often do you, "pick off caterpillars?"
Michael Phelps (and so many other Olympians) are excellent cultivators of their own greatness. I invite you to be inspired by this Under Armour commercial. "It's what you do in the dark, that puts you in the light," the ad tells us. It's the hard work nobody sees. It's the antithesis to the overnight success. It's the daily showing up, putting in everything you've got, then doing it all again tomorrow. It's believing that, "Connections are made slowly, sometimes they grow underground. You cannot tell always by looking what is happening."
This weekend, in the quiet darkness, I worked toward my vision. I wonder if I have what it takes to consistently bring out the biggest embodiment of who I am. Do you wonder that about yourself? If you lived your biggest life, what would that look like? What would you need to do, every day, to realize your greatness? What would you need to give up? Who would you need to give up? How could you craft your life in such a way that you created ideal conditions to get the most bountiful harvest out of the most important crop: you?
In less than a month, over 375 people have downloaded the UNITY How-To Manual. They represent 46 of the 50 U.S. states and 17 countries. With all of this activity, it appears that UNITY is, in fact, spreading around the globe.
This weekend, Green Wood Coalition launched their project in Port Hope, Ontario, Canada (see their cool picture above). We hope their installation is a huge success and fulfills their mission of connecting people who have been marginalized with those who haven't been. On August 19th, Cuyahoga County Board for for Developmental Disabilities will launch UNITY in Cleveland, Ohio, USA. For those of you planning projects, be sure to let us know when your events will happen so we can share them with the larger community!