"I see things differently..."

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Ones that Show Up...

Each spring I have tulips that come up in my hosta hill on the side of the house.  These tulips are “volunteers”.  Nothing grows very readily in our wooded lot other than shade-loving plants.  Certainly, I have never had success with tulips, which are perhaps my favorite flower.  I am especially fond of the simple yellow tulips with black centers, and have painted them a number of times when I have purchased pots of them in early spring.  After they are done blooming, the contents are dropped onto my hosta hill, to enrich the soil.  (“Hot-house” or “forced” bulbs are not supposed to be able to re-bloom.  Too much energy is used to get them to bloom in an unnatural cycle.  So I make no effort to re-plant).

I was surprised a few years ago when a tulip plant showed up in my hosta hill and bloomed.  It was of my favorite yellow variety! Now this plant now comes up faithfully and blooms every spring.  This year, I was surprised to see the bulb had split into two plants, each bearing a bright yellow “cup”.  And several feet away, another tulip of the same variety also has shown up and is blooming!

Years ago, I decided on a gardening policy which has served me well each spring.  I welcome back and rejoice over the plants that made it through the winter.  I try not to dwell on which ones might not have come back.  That had tended to make me feel disappointed in my gardening skills (which are pretty laissez faire at best), or even a little bitter, as if I felt that plants had somehow let me down by not showing up for the "attendance count".

This weekend and last I held my annual art show in our home.  There is a tremendous amount of love and effort that go into the paintings created, but also into the preparation for the show.  My husband, Rick, is equally committed to the process.  Many, many invitations are sent out.  There is much anticipation on our part as to who will come.  We truly welcome anyone who is interested.  Though we obviously need to have some buyers, we do not want people to feel pressure in that regard.  It is a gift that we want to share with friends and family, and with new friends we may not yet know.

Last weekend, the weather could hardly have been any nicer.  After a long winter, of course, people are yearning to be outdoors.  People’s lives are very full, very busy, and many people are very concerned about not spending additional money right now.  Attendance for my art show throughout the weekend was fairly light, though it had a pleasant flow, with plenty of time to visit with people that wished to linger.  During this past week we also had groups in (great week for me to take my turn at hosting events---the house is clean; the paintings are hung…).  And we were among the most delighted when we heard that rain was forecast for this past Saturday, my last day of open house.  Once again... light attendance, but wonderful people and visits.  But, all told, the show itself was a fair enough financial success.

It is difficult not to think about who did not come, especially those on our invitation list who have not attended year after year.  My husband starts counting who has not come, but like the missing plants of my garden, I choose not to dwell on this.   

Of course, the light attendance and failure to respond also gives me cause to reflect on the various gracious invitations I have received during the year, to which I have not been less than responsive.  It provides a good opportunity for me to become more sensitive to what others have to offer.  I also see numerous friends putting together wonderful programs and becoming discouraged about how hard it is to find participants.  And my artist friends bemoan the fact that so little of their work sells.

My tendency becomes wanting to show up for everyone and everything, knowing how hard people work and their need to feel supported. I also recognize that there are often times when I miss appointments, run late, and let people down....  “over-extending” has its down side too. I have come, the hard way, to the realization that everything does not “fit” for everybody and that we need to be okay with that.  A good connection needs to be good for both parties; to pretend otherwise simply becomes a burden. 

Yet I have also concluded that it is still very important for us to really “see” and appreciate each other.  We need to recognize each others' gifts, but only tie in more closely with them when they are a good fit for us too.  But, we can all help those that we know by directing other people to them, those who might actually be a good or even great fit!  However, we will never know how to do this, if we do not first learn to appreciate each other.

So I choose to be thankful for the connections that were made this year during my art show.  The people that took the time and effort to come, the ones that ask how things went if they were not able to attend….all of this is noticed, and it helps inspire me to continue on my path.  Though I would love to have more of my friends come to see what I am doing, I bless them on their way, knowing that they have their own activities and needs…. that time pressures are real.  And the offer of whatever gift I may bring to them remains open, whenever they might like to receive it.

Love and gratitude….I can’t help but wonder if, at some mysterious level, those yellow tulips came to bloom in my garden because they know how much I appreciate them….