On a cool October day, I knelt with my knees in the dirt to plant tulip bulbs. I used a special bulb planting tool that I’ve owned so long that I’ve forgotten where it came from. Dig the hole, drop in the bulb flat side down/tip up, fill the hole, scooch over, dig another hole. Water the whole lot in.
I love the rhythm of bulb-planting.
And the very best part?
Every bulb planted reminds me of how important it is to have faith. And to be able to wait.
Because when you plant a tulip bulb in October, then all you can do is… wait.
Wait through the snows, the torrential rains, the short, dark days, the gloom of January…. you patiently wait.
And if you got all worried and anxious about the bulbs – were they okay? would they come up? – and you went out on a frosty February Saturday to dig them up just to check, you’d kill ‘em.
So tulip growers must wait, and have faith.
Faith that you dug the hole deep enough.
Faith that nature will take its course (which, naturally means you plan that 25% of what you plant will feed the neighborhood squirrels).
Faith that on one March morning you’ll see tiny green shoots pushing up through the earth.
Tiny, mighty green shoots.
That’s the magic moment for me, the moment when my faith pays off.
Every time I see those small green shoots of possibility.
You see, I plant mixed tulip bulbs and never know what color will come up where, which makes that small green shoot a promise of the surprise to come. Doubling my delight.
All because I had the faith to plant them that October morning and resisted the urge to dig them up just to check.
Oh, plenty of us are too cautious to plant the bulb in the first place – we’ve been told for far too long not to get our hopes up. Why make the effort? We’d probably plant the bulbs upside down, or they’d rot, or the squirrels would have a family reunion feast in our front yard, leaving us with nothing.
And some of us need constant reassurance that we did the right thing by taking the time to plant bulbs. Are other people planting? Did I do it right? Do you think it’s working? How can I know for sure it’ll work?
Then there are those of us who are in-between and wonder why to plant anything at all when we’re just going to be moving on before anything happens.
Fear, insecurity, hopelessness set in and the opportunity to create something truly beautiful escapes us.
You know this is a metaphor, right?
Planting = your best work.
Waiting = faith that consistently doing what’s right is the most fulfilling part of the journey.
Green shoots of possibility = proof that you did the right thing most of the time.
Fully grown tulips = your beautiful, precious reward.
You, my friend, are the master gardener of your life and your career.
Every single day, with your choices, you are planting seeds and bulbs, trees and shrubs – in the ways you talk to others, the ways you show appreciation, the ways you collaborate, the ways you encourage, the ways you take responsibility.
Every single day, you have the choice to plant your seeds in your own rhythm, with the faith that – someday – you’ll see those small green shoots break through the earth with the promise of something quite spectacular on the way.
It’s all up to you to create your fabulous garden of a life. What will you plant today?