Hamlet Act 1 Scene 3:
Polonius to Laertes:
“This above all else: to thine own self be true.”
This one line from Hamlet has become a modern day call to “Honor Your Essence.” The problem is that most of us have no idea what our true essence is. For far too long I disregarded this advice, seeing it as somehow self-centered or unnecessary. Only more recently have I come to understand the importance of this truth – and how closely connected to Goodness it is.
Not long ago I fulfilled a Christmas promise. I had given my friend Beth a gift certificate to GroWild a local nursery that specializes in propagating and promoting native plants. The advantage of growing native plants is that they are naturally suited to thrive in their homeland. This is quite unlike the truckloads of plants we get at the local super-mart which are often transplants from other growing zones. Native plants succeed when other varieties don’t because they are uniquely prepared to thrive in their own environment.
Beth had become fascinated with indigenous plants after making a visit to Lady Bird Johnson’s Wildflower Center in Austin, Texas. She went in October after some 90 plus days of record breaking heat. Beth noticed that in Austin, everyone’s yard was crunchy brown and plants had long since gone the way of the dead. Everything looked dry and lifeless. When her sister suggested a visit to the wildflower center, she almost declined – “what would be the point under these conditions?” she thought. After yielding to her sister’s suggestion, she found herself in the midst of a blooming thriving wonderland of native wildflowers. While everything else had perished in the interminable heat, these native beauties were thriving. They were built for this climate, this landscape, this drought – and they loved it!
I was so happy when spring rolled around this year so that I could take Beth to GroWild. I knew that she would appreciate adding native specimens to her already impressive collection of heirloom and cherished plants. She had a new love for natives and we were going to get her some! You have to have an appointment to see the plants at GroWild. It is a huge nursery and the staff stays very busy tending all the vegetation like they are children. There is even a “nursery” for tiny baby plants that they propagate. The owner spent time with us, answering questions and explaining the layout of the vast property. He let us know where the full-sun lovers bathed and where the shade lovers hid, where the pond flowers swam, and where the succulents clung in the rock garden. It was a plant lover’s paradise!
The day was particularly hot for spring, and I warned Beth before we started that I fade quickly in the heat. This fact about me has always been a bit embarrassing. I just can’t last in the heat. All the cool people can take the heat, the beach people, the beautiful people, but not me. I fold like a cheap lawn chair in the sun. I wilt. Seriously. So I quickly had to seek shade while Beth shopped. I stood near the shade garden watching her busily explore and examine so many wonderful native plants. It was a joy to watch, but I felt silly that I had to stand in the shade and fan myself to survive.
After listening to a few minutes of my own head drama – (It sounds something like this…“Why am I this way? Why do I wilt while those guys thrive? Why can’t I be like everybody else? I bet these bronzed garden workers think I’m pathetic. They stand in the sun all day and drink it up like water and here I am under a tree…”) it began to dawn on me the full picture of what I was doing and how very silly it was. I was standing in the shade garden with the shade plants. They were just as beautiful as the sun loving plants – just as valuable. They were totally proud to be shade plants – you could tell. They were happy and thriving in the shade and they made no excuses about it.
In one simple moment I realized how much time I spend wishing I were something different – thinner, more heat tolerant, faster, less complicated. In that moment I saw that not ALL plants love the sun. Not all plants are fast growers. Some plants are more “complicated” than others. Some are tall and willowy, and some are shorter and stockier. They are made this way and they all thrive in the right environment. Native plants do well when they are planted in the place where they belong. They can survive incredible conditions like severe drought and prolonged flooding when they are in the right spot. So where do I belong? Where will I thrive?
At SaveGoodness we want to help build more resilient people – people who can survive the drought and difficulty that life can bring. Goodness is a lot about knowing your nest. Knowing your nest means that you acknowledge and accept your own essence – you are true to the essence of how you are made, what makes you you. Knowing your own essence is vital to being at peace on the inside. How else can you avoid becoming a robot? How can you keep from dying a little every day? The only way is to know your own heart and to be true…to thine own self!
What is the truth about you? What makes you come alive? What is life-giving to you? How are you honoring your own essence? Take some time to better know the essence of who you are. This week make at least one choice to honor and respect what you need to thrive, and then begin to notice the same of others. What kind of plant are you? Are you at home in your native climate or do you need a relocation plan? Promote some Goodness by honoring the true you.
Be true to yourself. It is at the core of Goodness.