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Postcard from Eden

A long time ago, I wrote an essay called “The Garden of Men” (no longer available), from the perspective of the gardener. In it I talked about some of the more notable manplants in my garden. The one with an overabundance of juicy, sugary fruit whose wind-borne spores showed up in gardens all over the world. The limp shade-loving ground covering who thrived best when trampled on. The almost-overlooked oaklike tree in the corner who had always been there, giving shade and shelter, with tiny sweet white hidden flowers. The poisonous weed whose leaf oils killed on impact and whose treacherous roots ripped apart sewage systems. The exotic imports. The epiphyte with magical disappearing airborne melons. The finicky hot-house specimens who had to be tended just so. The accidental interlopers. The wholesome grain who had to be planted in trigonometrically precise rows and columns. And so on.

Maintaining a garden is a lifetime's quest. And I would know! Plant magic has been central to my family for...ever. A hundred years ago the family plant magic made Field a houshold name all over the US (still revered by those in the Business). Four hundred years ago they were avoiding being burned at the stake for it. Four hundred years and a bit ago, Elizabeth I knighted us for it. A thousand years ago Guillaume le Vainqueur brought an early del Feld (“of the Field”) with him on his conquest of the British Isles, so that someone solid would be around to grow things for eating and healing. And something tells me there were earlier ancestors who on one side of the Channel painted themselves with woad and threw virgins into peat bogs, and who on the other side made a mean healing tisane and had a way with the wheat.

My recent re-musings on the plantlike nature of personal and social evolution have returned me to the garden. But this time I was reflecting that it's the relationship between the manplant and the gardener that is the real plant. We plant the seed together and over time it grows into...something! You never know what it is going to be, although you can sort of tell the cardinal characteristics from the very beginning. You can know what is there, but you never know how it's going to manifest until, over time, the seed sprouts and grows roots and, day by day, bit by bit, “suddenly” there's a plant there. And then when it bears whatever fruit lies in its destiny...the harvest is invariably delightful!

However—in grand clustergeist tradition—I've also been thinking about myself lately as a plant. Nothing new there, but I have taken the next mental step. After having seen enough master dancers and yogis inhabiting their bodies, I became viscerally aware of the feeling of my roots extending deep into the ground, and realized that I had been fed a lot of erroneous anatomical propaganda my whole life. Someone redraw those anatomy posters that hang in my places of work, for God's sake! We docontinue way down into the ground, for real! There's nothing woo-woo about it. It's the Way Things Are. And we're not just stumps with roots either: we extend out in energetic branches and leaves too, and have lots of fun with them.

Feel your roots, Jordana, I told myself. I spent a whole morning walking around feeling my roots. You don't have to imagine them, because they are really there, just like any other body part. Feeling my roots totally changed how my leg sucked itself out of the ground and moved forward into the next step...and I realized that until now, I'd been living with a rootectomy, occasionally aware in a phantom-limb kind of way, but basically inhabiting my body as would someone whose ten fingers had all been cut off at the first knuckle.

I dove headfirst into the vat of feel-your-roots Kool-Aid and got fall-down drunk on it and lay on the beach for an hour, wholly absorbed in feeling my roots reaching fathoms deep into the sand and drinking up earth energy.

Then I dusted myself off and went home and the next day had the world's most disconnected yoga practice ever. Life likes a balanced spectrum.

AND THEN, the next day, my slow-ripening idea came to fruition! I was a couple of blocks away from the Civic Centre Farmer's Market and suddenly this wall of fruit energy hit me, taking my breath away with the impact. WHAM, fruit!

I love being around plants and animals because they have no energetic restrictions. Plants in particular. They are freely, nay, shamelessly themselves. If you're not blushing in the presence of a plant, it's because you're not listening. And because of their unconstrained irrepression, their energy rolls out of them in every direction, expanding merrily and gloriously into the world.

As I walked through the embarrassment of riches of the Farmer's Market, I thought of a friend who had been unhappy and how, at the time, she'd looked like she was pulling all the energy outside of her into her into these tight little knots. And then when she felt better I saw her energy rolling off her and taking up loads of space, moving freely through the air.

And I thought of a time just after making love. The man had had one of the rarest of orgasms and every single iota of his energy unravelled and expanded in every direction, every restriction gone, his chi flowing all over the place like rose petals and nectar and God knows what else. And then he fell asleep. Even the sleep was like the sleep of babies, with all the energy clean and orderly, and not a snarl anywhere.

I put all these thoughts together as I passed the pluots, and I decided: the more I relax, the more I will feel my roots all by themselves, because relaxed things are things whose energy goes out into the world. The more I unwind, the less I will have to consciously meditate and put myself in my body. Because I'll just be there naturally and without effort.

I integrated this notion for an hour or so. I thought about how every manplant in the Garden of Men needed a different kind of care regime. There were some who needed a lot of tending and some who preferred none at all. I thought about how I was, apparently, a plant too.

And then...aha!

It turns out that it goes both ways!

If you, like the White Queen and I, are in the practice of believing six impossible things before breakfast, then you will have no trouble swallowing the truth, which is that somehow, the whole time that I've been a gardener growing a thriving crop of manplants, I myself have been a plant in their gardens. And every one of them has tended and cultivated and nurtured me into being the fruit-bearing specimen that I am today. Every one of them created the conditions necessary for me to live in my dharma. —And yes, like any human gardener, sometimes they've done a really crappy job of it and it's a wonder I'm still here. But, like any human gardener, even if their execution has on occasion completely sucked, their intentions have always been for the greater good.

We all grow each other, plants in one another's secret gardens. We fuck up, we try again, and over time, without ever knowing what it will be until one day it's just there...we all bear fruit.

Secret Garden. Bruce Springsteen.