A colleague and I were commiserating on the sorry state of our imprisonment, and I mentioned that I had started this blog as a way to distract myself and keep my mind from rotting. Being much more industrious than I, he decided to take Candide’s advice literally, and plant a garden.
I’ve always loved that line, “we must [or let us] cultivate our garden.” I think the version I read many moons ago actually said, “let us tend our garden,” at least that’s how I remember it. Regardless of all the academic puffery that has been written about this quote, for me, it means that we need to get our own lives in order before we can help others, and to a certain extent, mind our own business. I become extremely irritated when I hear people complaining and vilifying and just generally being mean and curmudgeonly about either a) something or someone they have absolutely no control over so why do they even spend the energy worrying about it, or b) something they do have control over, but would rather sit around complaining about it than taking any action to improve the situation, because oh god, that’s just way too much effort.
Another quote I’ve always liked, since we’re on the subject, is “let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” (That’s from the bible, believe it or not. I guess some information must have inadvertently lodged in my brain during all those torturous hours spent in Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, Sunday Night Youth Bible Study, Wednesday Night Family Bible Study and Church Camp). Anyway, when I went through my divorce, it became very clear to me that everyone had opinions about my life (not sure why I was so shocked by this), and I’m certain everyone else’s lives within a twenty-mile radius. And I kept thinking that they had no idea what went on in my life or anyone else within a twenty-mile radius, so who were they to judge? I suppose that’s part of the reason I get so honked off by self-righteousness; at the end of the day, who cares? It’s not your life, and you don’t get to vote on it.
Am I tending my own garden? Or am I more like the curmudgeon who complains and yet does nothing? Or am I being too judgy? I must admit that some people in my life rub me the wrong way, and I have a hard time remembering that they too, have their own lives, and I have no idea what goes on there.
OK, I know this post isn’t earth shattering, but sometimes we just need a reminder. So I put this out there to the universe… help me not to vote on other people’s lives and just tend my own garden. It makes life so much simpler.
BTW… these are my neighbor’s peonies a few weeks ago before they lost their petals, or were deflowered, so-to-speak.