I was not born with a green thumb, to begin with. I was born with a touch that could kill a plant after three days or so. But when my mom got weak months ago, I was left with no choice but to pray hard that her beloved plants would not suffer under my destructive hands.
Every morning, it has become a routine. Before taking my breakfast, I head outside to tend to our plants: open the faucet, wait absentmindedly until the water in the small pail is enough, grab the made-up dipper, scoop a small amount of water, then give the plants their morning bath.
When I was a kid, we used to have a backyard full of trees and different kinds of plants. My mama and papa also built a bahay kubo there. We harvested winged beans, cassava, mustard, and camote tops, among others. Back then, after a day of playing out, I would take a rest in the bahay kubo and sing the plants a song. When I got tired of singing, I would talk to them as if they could talk back to me. Doing these things, so I was told, would make the plants grow fast and happy. So I did them.
I carried the habit to my elementary days, when we were tasked to plant and take good care of our science garden. I remember getting giddy seeing the first sprout of our planted sili. But after days of being neglected, it died.
Now, looking every day at the plants I’ve been left to tend to, singing and talking to them like I did when I was young, I fervently hope they can thrive. And that hope goes for my passions and dreams, too.
One night, while rummaging through old stuff, I saw old certificates from writing competitions I had attended. Memories flashed to a time when I was so passionate about writing, and awards were sweet rewards for the hard work I brought to that persistence.
But writing has become a struggle. This pandemic, there have been more half-finished articles than completed ones. There are half-written poems lying about, and words are just struggling to come out. I feel that the fire that once burned in me is slowly losing its flames. But life goes on.
I half-jokingly asked my boss one day if I could take a month of leave from work in order to rest my troubled mind. I told him I was struggling hard to think and write, which are needed in my job. But after days, I let go of my desire for a break.
Like writing, my love for art is struggling, too. Now, my art materials are collecting dust, waiting for the time I will touch them again. I used to spend long hours every weekend blending colors and experimenting with different art styles, but I’ve been finding it hard to even pick the color I want to use in jotting down notes.
Maybe it’s the isolation, the passing of time, or just age. But slowly, the things I’ve been passionate about seem to be tapering off. I don’t have the same energy and grit I had when I was younger. But I’m still coping.
Like the plants I am taking care of now, I am taking the responsibility of waking up dormant passions. Even if there are bumps along the way, I suppose it’s okay to get lost. I may have to start from scratch again, but the important thing is to keep going.
Today, growing plants is not just about growing plants for me. It has become about growing myself, too. As the lyrics of a song goes: “If it’s the last thing that you do, don’t give up on you.” We need to be kind to ourselves, because we are all growing and there is no stopping the process, however challenging it may be. We just have to wait patiently for our time to bloom.
I was not born with a green thumb. But I was born with determination and persistence to go through and grow through things. There is, after all, beauty in waiting. By planting patience along the way, things once thought lost can thrive once more—like plants, and passions and dreams.