I wonder what comes to mind when we read, or hear this statement. Those of us who have participated in farming at one point or the other in our lives, would probably relate. When I was younger, my mother loved having gardens. We moved around a lot, but that didn't stop her. Every place we moved to, as long as there was soil available, my mother planted something. She always made a garden. We planted vegetables, plantain and yam. Every day, we would watch diligently, to make sure that nothing affected their growth- water, sunshine, animals, pest, diseases- it was a constant battle to make sure that these were either absent or present so that our little babies may grow.
The part I hated most about this journey was the onset. Having to clear the patch of land, make heaps of soil for planting, or dig; on occasions when we had to. I would grumble and mumble and look for every reason to be spared this exercise, but with my mother, nothing ever worked. Poor little me was always left feeling devastated, as though I had gotten the strictest disciplinarian for a mother, one who didn't care about my happiness and comfort. Of course, I soon easily got over my sullen mood and joined the work.
After planting, we had to water and make sticks around our planted seeds, so that as they sprouted out, their growth wouldn't be stomped by a hungry goat, enticed by fresh looking green. We checked on these seeds at least, five times a day. Mother told me plants grew at nights, so some nights, I would lay awake, just to catch that magical moment when the first shoot would sprout out. As you can guess, I never did. I only woke up some morning, to see that our seeds have borne their first seedlings. Oh the joy! Eureka! I had cried, as I ran all the way to the garden to admire the progress of my sweat and energy. The awe and the happiness I felt was like no other. Little did I know, that it was nothing compared to what was to come, really.
After the first seedling sprout, more work followed- nurturing, pruning, saving. Morning, afternoon and evening, we visited our little garden and nurtured. Every now and then, we would poke our heads out of the window, hoping to catch a stealing goat, to use as a scape goat for others. Many times, we did. But you know these goats, no matter how many times you hit them, they only stay away for a while. It was work, real work, but we were encouraged to do more, because we were seeing progress.
Then one night, it happened. The veil of the skies opened, and heaven cried out its eyes, raining torrents and storm. It wailed in thunder whiplashes, and hiccuped in blinding lightning. We awoke the next morning, and beheld the ruin. Devastated was too soft a word for what we felt- too soft. Our babies had been damaged. Green that once bloomed beautifully, causing envy, now laid scattered all over. Discouraged, disheartened, we thought we never should have tried, anyway. But, mother wouldn't have it! And like every displaced city after a terrible disaster, we rebuilt! Those which we could salvage, we did. And those which we could not, we started all over, again.
The blisters, back pains, patched throats, pricked fingers, we went through all of these again, and continued the watch night and days. This time around, we put measures in place to prevent another bad rain from ruining them. Windbreakers, and all sorts. We learned from our afore negligence.
The planting season was long, so long, it seemed we would have to wait forever to cook with the vegetables, get a taste of the yam, and fry those plantains. But we didn't, for harvest came. Long awaited, yet worth every hour of it. It was euphoria! This time, we did not mind the blisters and the back pains as we dug out our tubers. We certainly did not mind the pricks as we got the vegetables... We were more than too happy, to reap the fruits of our labor.
That night, when we sat down for dinner to enjoy the meal of boiled yam and plantain with pumpkin sauce- all from the garden, goodness! It was like I never grumbled or mumbled. In that moment and in the days that followed as we enjoyed more of the fruits, we were glad that we never gave up.
Such is life.
Life, is a huge farm. We have all been allocated portions to cultivate, seeds to plant and the abilities and resources to nurture these seeds until full growth, when we can reap their fruits. It is never easy to do this hardwork, but we must. Laziness, procrastination, negligence, these are some of the things that keep us from sowing, growing ourselves- spirit, body and soul.
Even in times when we decide to, and put in all the work, we get glimpses of progress that encourage us. Then, some day, just like that, something happens and ruins all the hardwork we have been putting in- the long hours and long weeks! At this moment, we ask ourselves "why try?" Thoughts of quiting come, we can barely find the strength to move on! To pick up where we left off or to start all over again, if need be. But you see, we must! And most importantly, we must learn! The pain of planting and nurturing is never easy.
Lots of sacrifices, conscious efforts, have to be put into this journey. You would have to prune and water, cut off excesses and add things that are lacking. There are times when you feel as though it isn't worth all of these. Well, let me tell you this... We are a constant work on progress. Every day, our goal should be to be better than the day before. And all of these hard work, would pay off. Just as you don't get a mango fruit a day after the seed is planted, you may not see the rewards of your labour in yourself, in the lives of others, instantly. Yet, it will come. It will come.
Just keep up the good work. You've come so far, you've done so great and I know you can only do better. We all can. And if it ever gets too weary, too burdensome, and you feel you cannot go further or a cheat day wouldn't hurt, remember- the joy of the harvest, surpasses the pain of showing and growing.
So, eat right even when you would rather eat junks, exercise even when you would rather rest, go the extra mile even when you would rather walk an inch, reach out to that friend, when all you want to do is curl up and scroll through social media all day, read that book even though you just want to sleep... Just do it! Keep your mind open, even as you uphold principles and values. Be willing to unlearn, relearn and stand firm!