This post, my dear friends, is not about books. It’s about my other favorite subject, people. I’ll share something with you, a secret. I’m a little insecure around people. Maybe I’m a little TOO self aware in the wrong direction? I worry too much about what people think of me to be comfortable being me. But I find them fascinating and I want to be close to others, to understand them better. Or, maybe, I just want to feel like I belong, but my insecurities tend to win more and more these days. I’m having a harder time going out there and I find myself studying them from afar.
I have a couple of friends that feel the same way. They are far more formally educated than I am. When we get together for coffee or a desert walk, we talk a lot. We think, “If only we could harness this social energy. We may solve the world’s problems!”
Last week, we talked for over four hours after the subject of fruit trees was fully covered. You see, she planted two small avocado trees in her backyard. She knows I have a few established fruit trees and asked me to take a look at hers and see if I could tell why they weren’t doing well. I didn’t have to look at them. They won’t survive. They’re in the wrong environment.
It was hard to tell her that. She had worked so hard on keeping them alive. She’d brought them up from another friend’s house where they had grown from seeds to four foot tall saplings in large pots. She planted them in the yard, making sure they had plenty of room to grow, sun, and water. She’d even gotten some plant food for them. But they still won’t survive for very long.
I was uncomfortable because I couldn’t find a gentle way to tell her. I tried the “shit sandwich” plan, telling her what a good job she had done and all that. They were still alive but not for long and that she should transplant them somewhere else and they would do fine. She was determined to give it a try though, disappointed I didn’t believe she could do it.
Why am I so sure they won’t survive? Because we live in the high desert. The air is dry. The ground is sand and rock. The summers far too hot and the winters far too cold. There are things you could do to keep the tree alive. It may grow, but it won’t thrive or bear fruit. This is not it’s climate.
The next day, while I was out watering my own fruit trees (an apple and cherry tree, stone fruits do much better here if you protect them), I started thinking again about how plants are a lot like people. I must have talked about that before, right?
Certain kinds of people naturally thrive in certain climates. Introverts and extroverts, academics and creatives, winter people and summer, beach bums and mountain lovers. We all have our ideal climate where we thrive best and produce the sweetest fruits. We can adapt, that’s true. But, ideally, shouldn’t we all be searching out the environment that best suits us?
I’ve spent all my life searching out the environments where I grow best. I’m still learning. And I’m evolving, as well. Environments that we perfect for me when I was twenty don’t have the same effect now that I’m almost fifty. And some days I need to have more quiet than others.
What if we stopped trying to grow tropical plants in the desert and cacti in the swamp? We could be using our energy more efficiently if we stopped forcing ourselves and others to grow in climates that don’t suit our needs?