I see the word sustain and my mind floods with questions.
What does it mean to sustain? What kinds of things do I sustain?
How do I sustain, am I thoughtful, am I wasteful?
Should one thing be sustained over another?
Am I sustaining the environment or myself or is it both?
If I sustain one can I sustain the other?
If I sustain one will I naturally sustain the other?
At first thought it almost feels exhausting. It feels like running a long distance race and I must sustain my endurance mile after exhausting mile. It feels like staying awake, sustaining my alertness and all I want to do is sleep. Sustaining my patience when all I want to do is scream. It sounds daunting, overwhelming, unachievable, a mystery – why?
Do we sustain what we love? Relationships, marriage, gardens...sometimes even the things we love feel too hard to sustain day after day.
Synonyms for the word sustain are words like withstand, bear, tolerate, endure, weather, support, maintain. To tolerate something? That doesn’t sound inviting or comforting or even worth doing. To tolerate is just to put up with, over look the negative, and over look the annoyance. It feels arduous, grueling and draining. Am I spending too much time sustaining things that are not natural to me and therefore draining, grueling and arduous? I don’t know where to begin, how to see it differently, and how to change my mind.
It is common to equate sustainability with environmental issues. I had never thought of sustaining myself quite like the natural cycle of a perennial. Yet it is becoming more and more widely shared, by sustainability experts, that human beings can also embrace nature’s principles of sustainability and make many of them their very own. I am intrigued even further after I read an article that suggests it is well worth our time and effort to look at how nature sustains itself. Beautiful examples of sustainability are all around us and being confirmed in article after article and website after website.
I feel my perspective shift. I decide to see for myself and only have time to venture out in my own little postage stamp of nature. I sit quietly in my back yard garden; shaded by a ten-year-old peach tree and I look around and take it in. My mantra is "find sustain, find sustain, find sustain". I notice a dahlia just coming to life.
I wonder if the dahlia I see feels like the sustaining journey it so devotedly takes summer after summer is arduous, grueling effort filled?
Does it start it's new year in the early summer growing and stretching and reaching toward the warmth and the light feeling drained, exhausted, overwhelmed?
After a cold winter hidden under the ground, carefully wrapped in the earth’s soft fragrant soil so gently and tenderly, does this fine dahlia simply tolerate the passage from one season to the next?
I cannot image that this perfect dahlia, golden with a hint of orange, dripping with morning dew, petals still tight from it's days held so close in bud form, feels anything but effortless, energy filled, excitement. I feel my perspective shift even more.
Slowly it opens, one fine petal after one fine delicate petal, attending the garden show and embracing the new season with not one negative impact. It is not taking anything it doesn’t need or use completely, therefore it doesn’t waste or mess things up. It’s time is not useless but productive. And when it is done it gives back completely.
What would life be like for human beings if we cycled through it just like the dahlia?
What if our health, happiness and well being were so naturally sustainable and with effortless perfection - using only what we need and giving back completely? What might you or I do differently today to embrace nature’s fine example tomorrow?