My little Star Jasmine creeper is cautiously finding its way along the trellis. It hasn’t bolted quite as I expected, but is making slow and steady progress. Near the gate, the delicate, waxy Hoya is climbing up the inside of my garden wall despite the sign on the other side prohibiting it. Plants aren’t easily discouraged by human vanities, no matter how polite.
It got me thinking about the nature of plants to ‘reach’.
On my morning walk I turned the idea over in my thoughts. Everywhere I looked plants were aspiring to be somewhere else, something bigger, something better than they already were. The ground-covers reached out laterally. The lofty palms waved high above me. Huge Norfolk Island pines in the cemetery soared many metres above the headstones, while beneath the ground, their roots sought purchase, diving deep to support the towering growth above. But why? What drove this ‘rush to reach’?
The obvious answer is their will to live, to proliferate. It is in their nature to reach. They reach for what it takes to sustain and reproduce life. But sometimes the obvious isn’t always that obvious when you delve into it.
Despite all manner of vicissitudes, plants keep on striving to fulfil their inner code, their destiny. We hack them back, plant them in impossible places, deprive them of enough light, water and sustenance of soil – but still they persist.
What I learnt from plants is this: we all reach out to sustain life, to survive. Together with the instinct to procreate, it’s one of two of our most basic instincts. But is that enough, to just survive?
Can we, like plants, grow around and through the obstructions in our lives; thrive despite not having ideal conditions, or even because of their absence, to be the best possible versions of us?
For this to happen, I need to embrace an important difference between the notions of ‘reach’ and ‘aspire’. I cannot not just ‘reach’ to sustain life, but rather, I must ‘aspire’ to really live it. I must breathe life into my goals by making considered, mindful choices, if I am to grow to greater heights and not just survive.
“You’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So… get on your way!”