Go Big or Go Bust: Day 197 (Lesson from the garden - self-confidence from potatoes and courage from a dream)

A number of weeks ago, I mentioned that I'd been down in the basement and the poor potatoes looked like Rapunzel without the benefits of gravity.  My gardening filmmaker friend Marian Evans (of Wellington, New Zealand) advised me to "Stick those spuds in the ground!" (something like that).  And so I did,  I went and dug six inch holes and stuck them in the ground with their 'eye stalks' pointing toward the sky.  These poor potatoes are left over from our crop last Fall and, try as we might, we hadn't gotten around to eating them.  By the summer, they were a little squishy and, as you can see, actively taking matters into their own hands.

early Summer

early Summer

I finally got around to planting them in early July and a week or so later, was thrilled to see what Marian must have know would happen.  The little stalks had turned green and were even sprouting tiny leaves.

July 11

July 11

Look at what's happened in the past three weeks.  One potato produces a whole bush.

Today, August 4

Today, August 4

Which brings me to the lesson I got from these potatoes: each one of us, potatoes included, has a yearning to do what we were brought to Earth to do.  And I'm moved by the faith of those potatoes in the basement.  They weren't getting what they needed even though they were giving all the signals that they were ready to get planted ... and still they kept on trying, growing, using up the energy of their potato selves to get to some sunlight.  (There are two very small windows in our basement, just enough to give you hope.) 

It reminds me of a night back in 1985 or 1986 when I sobbed myself to sleep after wailing to Mr. Green that I didn't know what to do anymore, if I was supposed to make a feature film, then okay!  I'll make it but I need money from somewhere.  (I'd been applying for and not-getting a lot of grants.)  Or should I give up on this artist/filmmaker idea and try to get a job in advertising or something?  Or should I devote myself to being a mother and have a whole bunch of kids?  I felt willing, I felt open and I felt desperate to know what I was supposed to do.. 

That night, I had a dream.  It was one  of those dreams which feels important, like a message.  I was in a 1950's type kitchen with a witch.   She wasn't good or bad, but she was powerful and forceful.  She commanded me to make the feature:  "Don't stop now!  You're almost there!

That dream gave me a powerful confidence to keep on going.  It wasn't easy and it wasn't finished til the Fall of 1989 but then the film, a feature starring Lea Floden as Louise, got into the Dramatic Competition at the Sundance Festival and the Panorama of the Berlin Festival and forever changed my life.

I'd love to have that kind of dream again.  The difficulty of this job of getting The Louise Log out to a larger audience has me doubting if I should be devoting any more time to it.  On the other hand,  it feels like that's what I'm supposed to be doing.  And then I think of what those potatoes had been going through from January to June.  I bet they had their doubts. 

Go Big or Go Bust: Day 187 (on meditation, weeding the garden, difficult men, spicy food and Global Domination by The Louise Log)

Weeding the garden for one hour in the morning is my new meditation.  Of course I prefer the no-tools method so I can feel the resistance of the roots giving way and 'win' hundreds of times before 9AM.  There's something inexpressibly satisfying about weeding this way but my obsession with it decommissioned my right arm last summer with 'tennis elbow'.

So I was motivated to be open to the advice of a professional gardener: she recommended using a hoe which is not nearly as satisfying but a lot faster.  As I whacked the weeds with a hoe the other morning, I pondered why the easier softer way (the hoe) doesn't appeal to me.  Words from forty years ago filled my head.  A fellow student at the Beaux-Arts weighed in on the subject of my disastrous love life: "Anne, tu aimes les plats épicés?"  (trans: "Anne, do you like spicy food?")

I remember being annoyed at her suggestion that my attraction to difficult men was just one manifestation of an integral part of my character.  But it's funny that this line has stuck in my craw lo these decades.  Maybe it explains my fixation on taking a popular but obscure micro-budget web series from its audience of thousands to global domination.  I haven't given up.

That's dirt splattered on my face and hands.

That's dirt splattered on my face and hands.

Go Big or Go Bust: Day 178 (Lesson from the Garden - on self-will run riot and the fear of being a cheapskate)

Last year, the first year of having a vegetable garden, I treated it like a sculpture.  The orderly weeded rows were so pretty I didn't want to disturb anything by picking it.  I knew people visited other friends' gardens and came away with bags of vegetables and it gave me an uncomfortable feeling - that I might actually be a tightwad.  But I pushed that thought back down where it came from and reassured myself that I'd effortlessly join the ranks of the generous in August, when we had things to share. 

Showing you some sugar snap peas, and there are plenty more behind my head, too.

Showing you some sugar snap peas, and there are plenty more behind my head, too.

Weeks turned into months as I weeded the summer away, enjoying the silence and the satisfaction of feeling even dandelion tap roots give up the fight.  Every plant in the garden looked gorgeous, thriving, but only the cucumbers demanded that I gather them up.  They were numerous and threatening to take over the neighboring rows, growing through the fence and out into the field.  These I was happy to share.  So you may be surprised to learn that few people want a full grocery bag of cucumbers.  I was becoming a public nuisance: "What? Only three? Ever try cucumber gazpacho? And you can purée them for puffy eye masks!" 

Late last summer, I graciously offered our neighbors a large bunch of our radishes.  Okay so, big deal,  they looked more like lumpy red carrots.  Your radishes would too if you had rocks and clay for soil.  The neighbor bit into a radish and spit it out on the ground: "These are woody!  I pick 'em when they're the size of a thumb."  I may have sneered at him. 

And I began to see that my issue was not just with not wanting to share, but also with forcing things on people.  It sounds like I may have a problem with self-will or, more precisely, self will run riot.    

This year, we picked the radishes when they were smaller than a thumb.  And this year we have a chart for when to pick what, not that the chart is accurate, but it's some kind of a guide. 

Funny thing, yes the radishes were ready first, but the bib lettuce, arugula, basil and yellow onions have zoomed ahead of the cauliflower and yellow squash. 

Funny thing, yes the radishes were ready first, but the bib lettuce, arugula, basil and yellow onions have zoomed ahead of the cauliflower and yellow squash. 

Also, I learned a trick.  The more you pick the sugar snap peas, the more they produce.  It may also be true of the arugula and the other vegetables just getting going.  This news makes my tight-fisted cheapskate tendencies evaporate like the morning mist.  And I have the whole rest of the summer to work on the other issue. 

Go Big or Go Bust: Day 153 (progress report on the highlights reel)

Like the little vegetables in the garden, I'm happy to report that I'm making some progress.  The highlights reel is close.  Even very close.  Mr. Green pronounced it 'a lot better than okay'.  

And this even though I'm spending way too much time googling 'breaking news' about the escaped convicts, all the while hoping that I'm not drawing them psychically to me by this fixation.

Go Big or Go Bust: Day 103 (simple recipe for happiness)

Today I heard the most deliciously simple recipe for happiness.  Cause, in the end, isn't that what it's all about?  The frenetic activity, the accomplishing, the efficiency, the lipstick so you look your best doing it (or at least look like you have a mouth). 

Well so here's the recipe: spend time being quiet in the morning, connecting with yourself.  Then relax and trust your intuition to guide you through the day.  Huh??  That's IT?  Yup.

So today I trusted it and, though yes, I'm wayyyy behind with social media  (the rapacious creditor) I'm too tired to care.  The garden needed to be turned over and the weeds pulled out.   And that's what I did.