I always feel so guilty when I thin out seedlings. I even find myself apologizing; “I’m sorry sweetie, I know you were trying your best, if I had space each and every one of you would get the chance to grow to your full potential.”
In a way I find myself akin to the ones that don’t make the cut. In almost every area of my life that has always been the case. I may be well read and have a lot of knowledge in a wide variety of areas; a lot of skills in a wide variety of specialties, but someone else is always better. Someone else always gets the lead role, the award, the solo, the contract, the promotion. In the end I always get weeded out.
I don’t hold it against them, the ones who win. They worked hard for it. In most cases, they have dedicated their lives to this one thing be it academics, music, drama, a career, or whatever else it is that they succeed at. They deserve it, and I will be the first one to congratulate them on a job well done.
It does sting though, to admit that I will never be quite good enough to be best; that somehow I always end up in the supporting role, in the chorus, as part of the team support, or as the wind beneath their wings, the one the successful ones mention when they thank all of those that got them there and made this possible.
It is the dabbling that it is my downfall you see. So many successful people know what they want to do with their lives from the time that they are kids. For most it has been their lifelong focus. They start gymnastics or ballet at the age of three and go on to win tournaments and perhaps go on to the Olympics or make a career out of being a ballerina or teaching others to dance or tumble.
Perhaps they have been playing the violin since the age of six and their dream is to play in a professional orchestra or come up with the next immortal symphony. Perhaps they have been drawing since they were born and so it should come as no surprise when they open their own art gallery or become a famous illustrator or find their niche in teaching or painting.
Some people find mathematics or science or religion and throw themselves into their vocation with a diligence that always amazes me. Seriously, to spend a career studying one type of molecule or a specific type of invertebrate? I am astounded by their dedication to their chosen topic. Even more astounded at their insights and the advances that they contribute to humanity’s body of knowledge.
These successful individuals work harder than I do, I will admit that. They dedicate their lives to one thing; throwing themselves into their chosen vocation with a focus that is simultaneously admirable and terrifying, so it is no wonder to me that they succeed.
Part of me wishes that I could have that sort of focus, but another part of me shudders in horror at the thought of being locked into any one thing for my entire life.
And so, I will settle for being a weeded-out seedling. After all, it’s not like they get tossed out in the trash. They get tossed into the woods; discarded in favor of the bigger, stronger and more beautiful.
But discarded seedlings still have the opportunity to bloom and grow and become what they were meant to be, even if it is out of sight in the woods where the wild things are.
Uninhibited by containers or boundaries, this seedling’s roots will grow deep and wide. Her blossoms and fruit will be found in the most unexpected places and at the least expected times.
And so, I will perform for the ground hogs and the rabbits. I will write stories for the crows and for the hawks. I will sing for the deer and paint my pictures for the Fisher Cats. My performance reviews will be written by moonlight and documented in the leaves of the trees and my riches will be in the golden spill of morning sunlight, the silver sparkles on the river, and in the knowledge of a life not contained by anyone or anything, but where every moment has been lived to the fullest.
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