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Digging Deep: Why Gardening Is My
Go-To Therapist

February 20, 2024

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There's a peculiar magic in the act of gardening, a kind of alchemy that turns seedlings into sanity and compost into calm. It dawned on me, as I stood in my backyard, arms akimbo, surveying the kingdom of my kale and the empire of my eggplants, that this wasn't just a plot of land. It was a stage, and I, a humble player in Mother Nature's grand performance.

In this verdant theater, the drama of life unfolds with every sprout and spade. Gardening, I've realized, is not merely a pastime; it's a full-blown comedy-drama, where the birds are the chorus, the squirrels are the pranksters, and I, perhaps, am the slightly bemused narrator, trying to impose some narrative on this wild, green chaos.

 

As I plunged my hands into the loamy soil, a thought struck me with the force of a falling acorn: here, in the sanctuary of my garden, with dirt under my fingernails and a sunhat slipping comically over my eyes, I was cultivating more than just vegetables. I was nurturing my mental health, one chuckle and chive at a time.

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Why Gardening Is My Go-To Therapist:

The Unscripted Comedy of Nature: There's something hilariously unpredictable about gardening. One day, you're the proud parent of a flourishing cucumber plant; the next, it's been reduced to a chew toy by some audacious critter with a vegetable fetish. It's the slapstick comedy of the natural world, and you can't help but laugh.

 

Dirt Therapy: There's a visceral satisfaction in getting your hands dirty that just can't be matched by clicking a mouse or swiping a screen. It's like a full-body massage for the soul, but with more earthworms and less awkward eye contact.

 

The Art of Imperfect Perfection: In gardening, as in life, perfection is a myth. My garden is a living tapestry of trial and error, a testament to the fact that 'oops' often leads to 'eureka.' Plants, like people, thrive on a bit of benign neglect and the occasional pep talk.

 

The Zen of Weeding: There's something inexplicably satisfying about weeding. It's like popping bubble wrap, but with a sense of moral superiority. Each weed yanked feels like a tiny victory over chaos, a small step towards an order that my living room, with its pile of unread magazines and mysterious remote controls, never knows.

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Distraction Therapy: Gardening, my friends, is the ultimate distraction. Forget meditation apps and overpriced yoga retreats. When you're trying to figure out why your tomatoes are more yellow than a canary in a mustard factory, there's no room left in your brain for existential dread.

Nature's Antidepressants: Plants, unlike people, don't talk back. They don't bombard you with their political opinions or judge your decision to wear socks with sandals. There’s a tranquility in this silent companionship, a leafy embrace that whispers, "It's okay, we're all a bit weird here."

 

Physical Activity with Purpose: Gardening is exercise disguised as a more noble pursuit. It's the gym for people who think treadmills are instruments of torture and lifting weights a peculiar way to spend an hour. Instead, you get your hands dirty and your heart rate up, all under the guise of "hobby."

 

Accidental Learning: Ever find yourself at a party, cornered by someone detailing their recent gallbladder surgery in excruciating detail? Gardening equips you with an arsenal of random facts. "Did you know that carrots were originally purple?" is a great way to shift conversations from gallbladders to gardens.

Seasonal Awe: Gardening forces you to live in the moment, or at least the season. It’s a front-row seat to the never-ending show of sprouting seeds, blooming flowers, and the dramatic finale of autumn leaves. It's like binge-watching nature's own series, with the added bonus of not needing a subscription.

Achievement and Patience: Plants don't care about your need for instant gratification. They teach you the art of patience, the joy of anticipation. When that first sprout breaks through the soil, it's a moment of pure magic, a reward for your patience, and a reminder that good things come to those who wait... and water regularly.

Community and Connection: Gardening isn’t just about communing with nature, but also with fellow humans. Sharing cuttings or tips on slug warfare, it's like joining a secret society where the password is "How's your compost doing?"
 

In my garden, every plant has a personality, every bug a backstory. I've held funerals for fallen sunflowers, officiated weddings between unlikely plant pairings, and mediated disputes between neighboring herbs. It's a microcosm of society, only with more photosynthesis and less politics.

So, if you find yourself feeling a bit off-kilter, I recommend grabbing a spade, some seeds, and a sense of humor. Remember, in the world of gardening, the only thing you need to grow is a smile. And maybe some tomatoes. Tomatoes are always good.

~Michele Jaillet

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