Once upon a time there was a woman who had a garden. It was a good garden, bigger than many people could ever hope for, filled with beautiful flowers. None of the flowers were perfect, none of them were necessarily the rarest or most dazzling flowers in the world but it was hers and she had grown them all from seed and she loved them. She spent every day in her garden, sometimes working at improving her flower beds, sometimes looking for new things to do there, sometimes weeding, cutting back, training the flowers. It was her life and she loved it.
There were times when other lives caught her eye and times when other dreams took her eye away from the garden for a while. Sometimes she would get caught up in an idea or a plan and the flowers would lack some attention for a little while. She always came back though and none of the flowers suffered too badly. Sometimes she was tired of gardening and would lie in the garden and read for a while, her eye off the beauty she had created. But she was always there.
The flowers got stronger and more established and needed her attention less. The world outside the garden had paled for her and she yearned for the days when the flowers had needed her more. It seemed that one corner of the garden was not quite filled, not quite right. Against her better judgment, she let her guard down, relaxed her grip, let nature take its course and a new flower grew up. To her horror it clashed, overshadowing everything and changing the way the garden looked. It was as if a storm had gathered over them all, the cold had come and with horror she realised that if she left it there, everything would wither and die. She had wanted it so badly, but it wasn't right and sadly, she cut it back. She had never done that to a flower before and it cut her heart and broke her spirit. The light and warmth that had gone from the garden did not leak back in and everything was pale and distant from her. She could no longer see the beauty.
And now, there was a hole, a space, a gaping torn wound in her garden and she had no idea how to fix it. Her green fingers had gone, her courage to grow something new and make good choices for her garden was all used up. The love and joy was all leeched out and destroyed. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn't regain it. She turned her face from the flowers and the garden and everything crumbled around her. The flowers held on, barely and the garden became hard and angry with her.
Some years passed. She learned what she had lost gradually, seeing one day that the flowers still needed her and that she still had love worthy of them inside her. Patiently she worked on the garden and it forgave her; she watered the flowers and they grew back, barely changed by her absence. But the hole in the bed remained. The garden felt different now, more ready; cautiously she sowed some seeds and one day a tentative shoot appeared. She never quite believed in it, it never seemed as strong as she remembered the other flowers had been but it grew and she loved it. All through the early days of the year it grew, feeling all of her love and all of her joy and gradually it came close to flowering. Still she wondered if it would be strong enough but she tried to believe and one day it burst open, all ready for a new world, bright and beautiful, big and strong. For a moment it seemed that the hole was filled and the hurt was healed.
But it was not to be. Her heart, which had told her the flower was too fragile for this garden had been right and the flower withered, stuttered, failed before her eyes. She tried everything, raining tears of love and desire on it, urging it on, willing it to live through long days and longer nights. The flower rallied and the whole garden turned its face toward it, ready and waiting to welcome it into their colourful throng. But it was not to be and too soon, much too soon, it was gone, a beautiful fleeting memory.
And now her heart was broken again and she yearned for the days before that space in the garden had ever opened up in her eyes, wishing for the time when the garden had been full and colourful and happy and almost perfect. Gently, she sifted the earth of that space, watered it with tears, closed around it with the leaves and stems of other plants. She covered it over as best she could, marking the spot in her memory, pulling the other flowers around it to hide the emptiness.
That flower taught her all about valuing what she had; she immersed herself in her garden and her flowers and marvelled at them daily, speaking with them, training them, honing them, watching them thrive and grow. In time her courage returned and she planted a new seed, in a new place, a place of its own. And when that flower grew it was its own thing – and beautiful in its own way. And it fitted with the garden and the other flowers perfectly and to everyone else who ever came by, the hole was barely even noted. All they saw was the beautiful, bigger than average garden she was lucky enough to have.
And here endeth the lesson. I know. I don't need to be told.