This is a special collaboration between my Papa and I for Fathers’ Day!
The quarantine gave me the opportunity to grow something and succeed, for the first time. Dad, meanwhile, has had years of experience. He planted anywhere he could. He grew pechay, beans, and other vegetables in his plots at home, at school, and even at their neighbor’s. He oversaw family integrated farms in a coastal town in Ilocos. They had cattle, pigs, bangus, tilapia, prawns, corn, rice, onions, and peanuts. He would drive the tractors and plow the fields. He loved working under the sun and being surrounded by the elements. It was his first love.
He has been working as a lawyer for the last 30+ years and has been expressing a desire to get back into working with the earth again, but there was never time. Staying at home at this time gave him the opportunity to pick it up again and it gave me the chance to understand my papa’s heart.
During the quarantine, my parents were home a lot and my dad finally had the time to create a small greenhouse and do some gardening. My dad loves doing things with his hands. In his free time, you can always find him cleaning, or doing handyman stuff, repairing one thing or another. I learned most of what I know about anything like that from him. I am extremely appreciative of my dad and all he’s taught me.
I’m continuing to learn from him and it is a privilege to keep learning alongside him. We’ve reflected together and compiled Five Lessons from Our Garden that we’d like to share to you today!
- Preparation is key
I am the kind of person who wants to jump on a new idea or creative project as soon as I think about it. I’m more of a “WOOOO LET’S GOOOO” kind of person, while my dad is definitely a “Hold on, what’s the plan?” kind of person.
Having someone like that in my life is so grounding. He always supports me in what I want to do, but never carelessly.
For best results, everything you need has to be prepared: the space, the pots, the soil, the seeds. I was excited to join him, but plenty of things needed to be prepared. This is teaching me that in the things that we want to accomplish, we have to lay out the foundation.
2. Stay hopeful and optimistic
You have to start your garden with the belief that they will grow and bear fruit. You cannot go into something with the anticipation of its failure, because that is exactly what you will get. Follow through your optimism with sustained effort . “Conscientiously work at it,” dad says. “Rarely do plants flourish when they are unattended.”
As children my dad brought us up this way: we were nurtured everyday. He believes in us so much, definitely more than we believe in ourselves sometimes.
3. Breakthroughs happen when we are ready
Watering the plants one day, I observed that even when the seeds were planted in the same soil at the same time, they still grew at different paces. We’re kind of like that, except for we were not “planted” under the same conditions as anyone else on this planet. Even then, we expect to abide by arbitrary timelines and get disappointed at ourselves when we’re behind when there is no such thing.
Dad always reminds me that ” Umay to.” (“it will come”, in Ilocano), when I would rant to him, being impatient for whatever it is that I would be concerned about at the moment: my graduation, finding a fulfilling and rewarding career, meeting the love of my life. We are all growing at our own time and the next step naturally arrives when we are ready.
4. Take Action
In your diligent effort supporting your plants, your observation skills are heightened. I’ve learned to check for worms, the dampness or dryness of the soil, their exposure to the sun and wind. Tackle these problems head on, to prevent more damage in the future. More importantly, take action to honor the work you have already put on before, to honor your vision.
Dad is the most hardworking and consistent person I know. He taught my brothers and I these values by showing us everyday. He is always moving, always taking action. So in his house, awan ti ag sadut-sadut (laziness is prohibited). But…
5. Embrace Solitude and Quiet Time
My dad is sort of an active meditator: his meditation comes in the form of sports and working out ( he is a marathoner, ultra-marathoner, and duathlete! ). I meditate with stillness and breathing. I guess even then, I understand him because my mind relaxes when I make things with my hands.
Gardening is a combination of both action and stillness. We dig our hands in the soil, exposed to the sun, the rain, and the wind. We divide the tasks: dad doing the work requiring more muscle, I do work requiring more of a fine, gentle touch. We work alongside each other, not really speaking much of the time. We are in our own meditative state, while still bonding and sharing energy with one another in the same space.
With staying home still the best option in staying safe from Covid, embracing the pause and tuning into stillness in the midst of a noisy chaotic world will only serve us. There is so much magic going on in our normal lives and all the busyness can keep us from seeing it. The quiet helps put so much in perspective.
Gardening is so parallel with Life. We hope that you find value in the lessons we’ve shared–be it with starting your own garden or with “watering” your life.
We are sending you and your Papas so much love today on Fathers’ Day!