Bonding over life lessons – Mother Nature and me!

Mother nature – our greatest gift by the Almighty. She has been our friend always, from being around us in great variety and beautiful in ways of her greenery and in her emptiness. Nature has been loving, caring in her own ways and recently outraged too with the way we have been handling her and it definitely hurts to see where the world is headed to (I am referring to the burning Amazon rainforests which constitute to more than 20% of world’s oxygen being produced here).

I consider plants and trees to be my friends. Just observing them, smiling at them I am at ease. In the recent times my love for plants has grown. I’ve been getting new plants home, the tall trees in my garden at home look beautiful, they form a beautiful veil to my home, under whose shadows I feel at peace. Of late, through my constant care for plants I have observed that plants silently teach us ways of life. It is my pleasure in sharing my observations and imaginations I’ve had when I look at plants and how they behave like humans and sometimes, can teach us life lessons of being yourself, retaining strength and never losing hope.

Lesson 1 – You are beautiful in your own way – Nature is beauty personified – there are so many variety of plant species in the world, just like the different races of homo sapiens (humans). I found various comparisons here – how plants have their own beauty right from the burgundy coloured plants to even the cactuses, each one is beautiful in their own way. They come in different shapes, sizes, shades, types etc but each one has its beauty.

I walked up to a plant nursery one day and I was in awe of the different variety of plants the nursery worker had. I fell short of words, but I wanted to buy them all. Different varieties of plants – tall, short, different colored plants – yellows, maroons and different shades of greens, some standing tall on their stems, some hanging out of the pots etc but I found each of them beautiful in their own way. I stood there outside clicked a picture and felt happy as I said to myself – “One day, I am going to keep them all”. Just imagine, if the different human races come together on one large ground – think how beautiful they will look, their beauty lies in being their own kind and color, irrespective of their races and sizes (or even looks), each one is beautiful. Mother nature’s biggest lesson is this – no matter how you look or are judged by others, you are your own kind of beautiful. You don’t have to be perfectly shaped with a great skin color to call yourself beautiful, you are great just the way you are. This reminds me of Bruno Mars song where he precisely says – ‘When I see your face, there’s not a thing that I would change ’cause you’re amazing, Just the way you are’. Shouldn’t we think of ourselves and of others in the same way? When I listen to this song, I am smiling – not because I imagine a guy singing this for me but the feel good factor that no matter how I am, I am still amazing and there is nothing I should change :).

Another lesson on nature’s beauty I learnt, when I witnessed autumn and winter seasons during the years. Autumn , also called fall – the season where summer transitions to winter, where the temperature gets cold, daylight starts growing shorter, tree leaves change their color and even become barren until winter and plants stop making food. Like these seasons, human beings also undergo different change in moods and emotions from happy to sad, from feeling good to feeling depressed owing to the different situations in our lives. But when we fall low and sad, the entire world turns negative for us. In our own eyes, we feel bad about us and others, we see the worst in some cases, we become dejected and don’t feel anything is good around.

When I went to Boston during March 2015 for a short weekend trip, one short walk in the woods and I felt so relaxed and happy. When I saw these pictures after getting back to India I realized that these barren tall trees around this place were still beautiful in their own way. They were barren and naked but they stood tall and strong withstanding the cold for months. It almost felt like their patience was tested by the winters (Boston is extremely cold every year during the winter) but they have enough patience not to break down and wait for the start of the spring season to regain their lost greenery and beauty.

One big lesson we learn for life – no matter how the days turn out to be, good or bad, our moods swinging from happy to sad , we need to treat this as a phase and move on hoping for the good days to come. We should understand that it’s a cycle of emotions. You don’t have to dwell on the negativity for long and our end destination is to be happy always. There are bad situations or bad circumstances, we fail but that is not the end of life, we need to patiently come out of such situations with lessons and believe that such things are not completely the end, there is a new morning after every dark night. The tall trees standing barren and alone teach us a lesson on how there will be days where you have to be for your own self , you have to be your own strength but with time things will eventually fall into place.

Lesson 2 – When I turn yellow and pale, hear me out – when I see plants turning yellow and pale, getting dry and falling off , I feel this is a sign. A sign of need, a sign asking for help or care. Like the plants need more water, they need sunlight and care in all forms. Keeping the weather and seasons aspects aside, I feel there are times when the right care is not given, that could lead to plants feeling low and dry. This calls our attention to give them more water or a good fertilizer for growth or a good time in the sun. Imagine the same for human beings – think of the times when your dear ones are feeling low or upset or want to be heard but they don’t generally share their feelings ,brave up with an artificial smile, living life as it comes and end up in hoarding so much inside themselves that they end up in depression. Look at such signs, signs of negativity in their talking, signs of worry, signs of dullness or gloom – these are similar to plants when they are turning yellow and dry. There is a need for them to be heard, to be coaxed to share what they are undergoing and give them help and care in all ways.

Remember, it is a sign of giving help, love and care in all ways. Our lives have become so hectic and hush hush, that we lose our connections with people in the race of life. Take a pause, stop by, have a phone call, send a message of care , ask them to meet up or drop by to meet them. I believe in the fact that it is a great feeling to be heard, to be cared for in all ways. Hear them out, do not judge them by their choices or fears, let them break down, get emotional and help them get rid of all the negativity and allow them to come up with solutions. We should give them a chance to speak up, share and also think of solutions in one way or the other, we could also suggest them ways but I feel when you know your problems, you also know your solutions. Let them speak up and come out of these situations with your help.

It is time we bring some sunshine to the lives of our dear ones who are feeling low and upset and want to be heard. Help your dear ones out before it is too late. The early signs of feeling low and negativity should indicate and give you a quick signal of giving help.

Lesson 3 – Cut off the negativity – Have you noticed plants having their edges turned brown or rotten branches among the green plants? – this is similar to human beings where we also have some negativity or probably a bad habit that we want to get rid of. How many times we try our best to get rid of them or even hide them from others but we are not able to get rid of them at all. Be it our overthinking , smoking, drinking, OCD , gossiping, our bad relationships – be it an abusive husband, overpowering business partners etc – we are aware of the ill-effects of our bad habits and how they are not good for our health or environment but we are unable to get rid of these , no matter how many times we have attempted to.

Coming back to plants, when I see the dried or rotten branches/leaves or the decayed edges of them, all I do is chop them off with the scissors. How does it feel? – Yes, it could be painful at that moment (plants don’t scream or cry like we do in times of pain or when hurt) but when I cut off this negativity from them, I feel like I am helping them for good. I am helping them come out of their pain or misery. I am removing the unhealthy part of their body with an aim that in the future it will help them grow better and longer and allow them to retain their healthy greener self and be beautiful. These unhealthy edges could be bad for the plants or it could eat up all their nutrients but it is important to understand the bad effects and cut them off.

I think our dear ones also have the same mentality for us, right from the bad habits we nurture to the times we are unhappy, say may be in an abusive marriage or a job which is making you unhappy or a friend who doesn’t want your good etc, our dear ones have always told us to get rid of them, but we continue to hang on to them. It is important to cut off such negativity, bad habits or relationships for a happy you. It is time to identify those decayed portions of your life that could get stronger if you feed on their negativity and give them more power. They could overpower you if you begin to focus and lose your time and energy on them. Find the right time, cut them off (it could be painful) but remember, in the long run, positive well-being will help you go a long way.

There was a time when I saw a rose bloom in my garden, it was red and beautiful with lush petals. Three days later when I saw the rose plant again, I saw the rose was dull and dark brown, it had rotten up and dried. When I observed the plant, I realized that the time of the rose was now over. The dried up rose was still clinging onto the plant. In my imagination, the plant looked like it wasn’t able to get rid of it. I went to the plant, removed the rotten rose and threw it away.

Think of applying this to your relationships or events – we enjoy the best times and moments in our relationships, but when it ends, it gives us a lot of pain. Clinging onto the pain does no good. Some day you have to let it go , for more better things to enter your life. Like the dead rose cannot be part of the plant always, similarly our relationships would not be part of our lives always – we may lose our loved ones one day or the other, but they would be a part of our memories always. They also wither away like the dead rose, but they will be happy in another world only when you choose to be happy with the memories you created with them. These memories are your most prized possessions and only they can give you strength and make our departed souls happy.

Lesson 4 – Celebrate the bloom, don’t fear the wither – Watching beautiful flowers bloom, gives me immense joy. I have childlike happiness when I look at flowers in the plants or bouquets beautifully made by assembling the flowers. No doubt, there is beauty in everything but have you ever thought blooming flowers look happy but this is short lived, they will dry up and wither away any time. Imagine if flowers knew this truth about the way they were created by the Almighty – that they could wither away in a day?. Do you think they would stop blooming, stop being themselves, just because death is near anytime?

We all know that someday we will die, but that should not stop us from living our one gifted life given to us. Flowers bloom in happiness, irrespective of the time they remain that way. Similarly, with our lives, we should learn to enjoy this life by spreading joys, being grateful for everything and living with pride.

Lesson 5 : Life is all about giving – The green nature, is a mother of all givers, in the sense that mother nature provides us with shade, shelter, nutrients and energy in the form of food, gifts in the form of flowers and does not discriminate between human beings, animals, birds or insects. Mother nature doesn’t discriminate between the different creatures in this world and is rather All-giving just like your own mother doesn’t discriminate between her kids. See how the plants or trees never boast or show ego, see how they look humble and meek , yet they provide us with everything without any ego. We have humiliated the nature, destroyed it for our own means, but Mother nature has only been kind and glorious in its little and big ways. This is the biggest lesson for all of us human beings – to give. We need to give and share our joys, contribute to the society in many ways for a happier life. Try giving a meal to a beggar sitting on the road or help a blind person cross the road – see how this kindness can create happiness in your life by making them happy with your helping hand. Money definitely cannot buy us happiness, but it can buy a poor a meal, a less fortunate a blanket and an aged person a walking stick. Small efforts go a really long way. Don’t expect what you would get in return, see how you could be like the shade of the tree in such people’s lives , selfless and kind :).

Lesson 6 : Respect your roots – We all have seen how the roots of the trees are beneath the ground – muddy, very edgy and raw. Think of the trees, they have strong roots deep inside the ground and their bark stands strong above the ground with their branches lining out to different paths. That is how even our foundations have been in our lives. To achieve our goals, we have had a rocky start. We must’ve tried every option, tried to fit in a new place, tried to establish our roots, the base where we stepped could’ve been slushy and rough but we tried with all our might. With time, our roots held onto the place and we began to grow and flourish. We faced opposition in all forms but still held onto our dream of reaching our goal’s success. With every passing year, we grew and that’s how we impacted the lives of many others to whom we serve or aim to fulfill their demands. Each of us have such rocky beginnings, just like the plants – it is in us to believe in our might and efforts and continue to focus on our goal irrespective of the many storms we may have to face because we all have learnt – the sky is the limit :).

We also have come across the concept of Family tree, where we paste the photos of our family members, showing the many generations. The plants/trees showed us a very important aspect of human lives – our families. Our ancestors, our grandparents, our parents, our children and their children – looks beautiful to imagine but the best aspect here is how we would want our families to run on – what values we should instill, what should be taught, how we should care for them and nurture them and keep the family name strong and going. That is the real beauty of the family tree. My imagination with family tree has also been such that, the world is big and from the time of our ancestors till our children, the journey has been long and we would have dispersed to different nations or cultures on account of education or jobs or for new families but when it comes to our roots, our family base – this will always remain strong in the place where it started – the country your families’ roots lie in. Different nationalites take pride in their origin, their nation of birth etc. It is wonderful to see that pride. Like the tree whose branches sprout to different corners, each of us from our families might end up in different destinations but where our heart lies will definitely be in the state of our origin, our nation.

Observing plants has helped me learn the best things for life –

1. How to be grateful for who you are.

2. How to be your kind of beautiful.

3. How to adore the little joys of life with moments of sunshine and rain.

4. How to stand strong when storms of life try to overpower you and make you weak.

5. How to fight back and protect your loved ones when there are hard times.

6. How to reach the sky with soaring dreams and ambitions.

7. How to give and let live.

8. Each one of us have different needs to grow.

Mother nature definitely gives us signs for a better living. Spread the colors of your greenery and liveliness wherever you go and when you look at plants, remember they are teaching you something when they sway and smile :).