Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Mine vs. Theirs

Hello there! Spring has sprung in Northern Colorado, which means the weather swings wildly between winter and summer and every day seems to be windy. I'm starting to think about my garden, but conventional wisdom advises against planting before the second Sunday in May (Mother's Day), as we might still have freezing temperatures and/or a foot of snow.

My Chinese Lantern sprouts are holding their own...kind of. It's too cold to put them outside, and although my kitchen is pretty sunny, it's not quite the same. So they're looking a little wimpy:

In the mean time, I came across an online plant supplier that actually sells Chinese Lanterns. So I ordered one. You know, as a Plan B of sorts. And here it is:

Hmmm. It really puts my little seedlings to shame, doesn't it? If I were to plant them as is, we all know which one we'd bet on. Yep, the one formerly known as Plan B.

This has got me thinking about how comparing our efforts to someone else's can make us feel lousy. Am I a professional seed sprouter or plant propagator? I am not. Did I do the best with what I had? I did. Is there always going to be someone else who is bigger/better/more successful than I? Why, yes. Yes there is. 

We tell kids all the time, "just do your best." But adults also need to remember that it's better to make a good effort, even if the end result isn't what you'd hoped, than do nothing. At least you tried and maybe even learned something in the process. 

I'm not giving up on my sprouts, but honestly, I'm grateful for the company that grew this plant bigger and better than I could. And I'm looking forward to helping it thrive in my yard once spring arrives for real.

Friday, March 4, 2022

The Lessons of History

We're coming to the end of my local university's Holocaust Awareness Week, and Wednesday night I had the distinct honor of attending a presentation given by survivor Oscar Sladek. Mr. Sladek escaped the Nazi roundups in Czechoslovakia (though much of his family did not) and is a seemingly-tireless speaker and advocate. He's 86 years old, and though I hope he has many more years ahead of him, the day will come when the voices of the Holocaust survivors are heard no more. If you have a chance, please go and listen to the people who have lived so much history and are willing to share it.

I'm also reading The Choice, by Dr. Edith Eva Eger. She survived imprisonment in Auschwitz and after a great deal of healing and forgiveness went on to help many others through her practice in clinical psychology. It is harrowing and beautifully written, and though I'm only about a third of the way in, I know it will be unforgettable.

The Holocaust was a time marked by astonishing human cruelty but also courage and hope and resilience. The world is still a complicated place where some people--I'm looking at you, Putin--feel they have the right to choke the destiny of others in a stranglehold. I will not pretend to be an expert in geopolitical affairs or history, and the injustice in the world is at times overwhelming. But this simple advice is pretty sound: Be good. Be kind. Be tolerant. Smile often. And when things go sideways, as they are wont to do, help when and how you can.

Be well, my friends.