One year I decided I would plant
an exquisite garden
with all kinds of
flowers, herbs and plants.When it was fully grown, I opened the
gate to my garden and welcomed in my
neighbors to see what I’d created.
The first person said I’d planted too
many roses. “Roses are so cliché,” they said.
You should change that, it makes the
whole garden seem old fashioned.
I found myself nodding my head and agreeing.
How could I have been so stupid?
Roses are totally cliché and overdone.
I should have been more original.
The roses are stupid, I can see it now,
and I hate them when I look at them.
The second person said my cactus in the corner
was weird, and it messed up the whole garden.
It was too random. What was a cactus doing here?
It made no sense.
And again, I found myself nodding in agreement.
How could I have been so stupid? The cactus is weird,
and now everyone knows I’m weird for having put it here.
The cactus is ugly and pointless and it’s ruining everything.
The cactus has to go, all I can see when I look at it
is how much I hate it.
The third person to come didn’t
pay much attention to any of it,
including where they walked. They
crushed my geraniums and stomped
right through the strawberry patch.
After they left I realized the whole garden was stupid.
It deserved to be stomped on.
If I’d done it better, they would have praised it.
They would have treaded carefully, treasuring it.
But it’s okay.
Next year I shall do it again,
and I won’t let anyone see it
until it’s perfect.
At the end of the summer I closed the gate
and locked it up tight.
I built the fence higher so no one could
see my garden until it was ready.
The next summer my garden bloomed even
bigger and brighter than the summer before.
But this plant was wrong, and that herb was wrong.
And I kept ripping things out, moving them,
and I changed so many things
that half of it died.
It wasn’t perfect.
No one shall see it.
There’s always next year.
And the next year and the next year
it went that the garden bloomed but
it wasn’t perfect, it wasn’t ready to be shared.
As the days went on and I sat alone, looking at all
that was wrong with my plants,
I began to feel an emptiness.
I didn’t understand what was happening.
This had once brought me so much joy
And now I felt so sad and empty
each time I came
that I stopped gardening all together.
And by the fifth summer,
all I had were weeds.
I sat behind my locked gate, with my high walls
and I knew, this was something no one could see.
No one could see what a mess I’d made,
No one could see how I’d neglected and ruined
my beautiful garden.
During the sixth summer I sat alone in what had
once been my garden. The air turned
cool and the leaves began to change.
All I had now was the memory of my
Which I still loved.
And I began to wonder, if maybe it
had been perfect all along,
and it was only me who needed to see it.
That winter I unlocked the gate. I
took down the fence, and replaced it with
some chain link fence that would keep
the animals out but allow the air to flow
freely, in and out.
When summer came, my garden bloomed.
The roses were back,
the cactus was back,
and it was all perfect, just as it always had been.
When the first person came, I
did not wait for their comment. Nor
did I let them rush in and trample.
I stood before them, and I said,
“Be careful where you walk
for this is my garden.
Each petal, each leaf,
each needle of the cacti is important to me. You may
not understand or like everything, and that’s okay.
I only ask
you take those thoughts,
hold them in your mind,
and use them to make your own garden,
just how you like it.
Because this one is mine.”
And as that person prepared to go
“Thank you for coming.
Know that I cherished you while here
like you were one of my own flowers.
Because although this garden is mine, it is
a gift I can only enjoy when I am able
to share it with others. The time you
took to be here brightens my heart,
and I hope you will come again.
Maybe one day you will plant
your own garden, and if you do,
please invite me to see it,
because no two gardens are ever
the same, and that is a gift
we give each other.”