I was telling Keith that I’m really bad at patience. He shared a story with me. It’s from his days as a Jesuit-educated kiddo. (I was never taught such deep stuff in public school.)
The young priest goes up to the wise, old patient priest and says, “Father, please teach me patience.” The old priest says, “Well, patience is a gift from God. So, let’s pray for you.” The two get down on their knees and the old priest begins to speak: “Dear Heavenly Father, please visit upon this young man all manner of suffering, trials and tribulation, please give him pain the likes of which he has never experienced.” The young priest says, “What are you doing?!?” To which the old priest responds, “Once you have endured all manner of suffering, sitting still and waiting patiently will be the easiest task you’ve faced.”
So, I’m getting okay with being patient. I mean… look at my choices! Sit patient, I shall! Like it or not. 😉
But I got to thinking about my “mess of options” as a garden. Let’s say that, in my handful of years in Hollywood, I’ve been planting seeds in various sectioned-off areas of my garden. Pretend that I somehow had the wisdom, good mentorship, or an instruction manual to guide me. And that’s why I did a really great job of putting seeds into the ground at areas with the right type of shade for their healthiest growth, knew not to put plants that choke the life out of one another in close proximity, and carefully chose fertilizer that works well, even though I–at the time–thought I was just biding my time playing in the dirt.
I may not have realized, while writing for Back Stage West, that I was planting seeds. It just felt like a cool survival job for an actor with an MA in Journalism. I mean, what the heck, right? It was easy, it related to my world, and I was asked to earn money writing about casting for a readership of actors… so I did it! When I published my first book, I probably didn’t think of that as planting seeds, since it seemed like such a BIG DEAL. That HAD to be a harvest, right? Book publishing couldn’t be seed-planting. So, I didn’t worry about the seeds I had already planted, since I was busy harvesting. Or so I thought.
Getting into casting was definitely seed-planting, but it was in a totally different section of the garden. I’m pretty sure, at this point, I considered it an entirely NEW garden, rather than looking at some large field as a whole. But the thing is, I didn’t uproot the seeds I’d planted years before just because they were no longer relevant to me. In fact, when I left Back Stage West and went a whole year without a weekly column, yeah it was weird, but it was also okay. Like, maybe that part of the garden would grow someday, maybe not… but I didn’t really care. I had a new garden and that’s where my focus was.
So when I started writing a weekly column again a couple of years ago, I didn’t look at it as though I’d gone back to that same area of the garden to plant new seeds, nor did I assume that I was harvesting something I had planted in the past. I figured I was just planting new stuff! And I enjoyed watching it grow quickly, not ever assuming that the quick growth had anything to do with having learned something about how to plant or nurture little sprigs of anything in the past. I mean, this was a whole different garden, right?
And when a few films I cast went on to appear in festivals and win awards at them too, I thought, “Cool! A little bud is popping up! How fun!” And I kept planting new seeds, because, y’know, THOSE seeds (the films winning festival awards) were already plants now and there was really nothing for me to do anymore. If I didn’t keep planting NEW stuff, I’d run out of anything to garden!! Plant, plant, plant… hurry, hurry, hurry. Stuff the ground with seeds everywhere, in case something stops blooming and I’m suddenly out of anything to harvest. New relationships, new projects, new connections… focus, focus, focus… busy, busy, busy.
Hang on… what’s that? That dark little corner over there where I’d planted seeds a gazillion years ago… what’s going on over there? Holy crap! I must’ve done something right because without even watering, tending to, or fretting over what I planted years ago, something lovely emerges from the ground, healthy, beautiful, filled with life. It’s like the sprinkler system I thought to install (even though I was sure I was wasting money at the time) has been doing its job. And the seeds were so well-planted, the soil so well-chosen, and the shade/sun ratio SO just right that there’s LIFE there too!
Crap! Do I stop gardening in the section of the yard I’m paying attention to? Do I try to maintain both crops? All TEN crops? Could I possibly tug on the little seedlings just beginning to spring up to see if they’re heartier than what’s bursting through on its own over there? No… that would kill it all. Hmm. Do I… dare I… just WAIT? Could I ever trust that I actually knew what the heck I was doing all those years ago and enjoy that different plants are going to bear fruit at different times… and when they all bloom at once, just enjoy the view, invite people over, and have a feast?
Yeah. If I’m patient, I can do that.
Sometimes being a decent gardener means waiting for spring.