Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

“Reading and writing are acts of empathy and faith. Guard that trust carefully — in this rapidly changing business, it’s the only sure thing.” ~Erin Keane
"Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for it." ~Jesse Stuart

"A writer's job is to take one thing and make it stand for twenty." ~ Virginia Woolf

Monday, February 3, 2014

Planted in Different Gardens

My husband and I are currently visiting our oldest son and his family. Each day when our son and his wife and their two children leave early in a flurry for their long day at school (the parents are both teachers)-- my husband and I marvel at the well-orchestrated organization of this household.

The adults are extremely busy as are the children, yet they all manage so very well. It's a peaceful, happy, productive home. My husband and I know we could not have pulled it off. There's no way I could have had kids in school and still managed a career. My brain doesn't work like that. And neither does his. He's at a loss when it comes to managing anything involving the kitchen, except maybe emptying the dishwasher and fixing the occasional pancake breakfast on a Saturday morning.

Yet people used to marvel at our large family and say: "How'd you do it?"
Answer: "Uh, don't really know. It's just our life and we do the best we can."

I think it's ridiculous when people think everyone should be like them. But I hear it everywhere: "Why don't they do it like this?" Or "I do this, and I don't understand why so and so doesn't do it the same." Or "It's wrong to think that!"

In other words: "Why doesn't everyone in the world think and act exactly like me?"

Just like the diversity in a beautiful garden, the variety of life and lifestyles and choices and daily routines is what makes this world so fascinating!

The apple tree doesn't say to the rose bush: "Why don't you grow apples instead of flowers? What a waste of time. You can't eat roses or do anything but look at them and smell them. Geesh! I don't understand you at all. Stupid thorny short rose bush."

Yet the more advanced we become, the more backward and lacking in understanding people seem to get. You see it everywhere: Expressions of anger when others have different ideas from them. So we're all supposed to be the exact same, and think alike, and believe the same thing? What a boring world that would make.

God didn't create a world of sameness but a thrilling place, an environment full of interesting twists and delightful surprises. A platypus and a tiger inhabit the same earth, after all, just not the same garden.

37 comments:

  1. If we were all the same, it would be really boring. Then we'd all want to be different and unique. And since we already are, we need to enjoy it.
    I can't imagine getting any kids ready in the morning. Hats off to those of you who did it or do it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Well said. But I'd like to add that an apple doesn't fall far from its tree. You gave your son the tools to do what he does so well. You planted your garden well. :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. First of all, congrats on your new adventure! As an expat myself, I know how challenging and rewarding it can be. I'll be following your journey with interest.

    I love this post. It is so hard not to compare yourself with others when it comes to parenting. I'm constantly reminding myself that I'm different, my child is different, and what works for one family may not work for mine.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Talli, As I told Glynis Smy and others who've experienced the expat life, any and all suggestions and advice are welcome!!

      Delete
    2. My advice on expat life is to treat it as an adventure for the first two years. Then you'll know if you've made the right decision and you can put down proper roots.

      I loved this post.

      Delete
    3. Donna, I like that. It's exactly what I want to do! Just getting there so far has been an adventure. So I'll keep the same mindset for the next 2 years!

      Delete
  4. Different strokes for different folks. That's how I try to live my life.

    I've had to have, and will probably continue to have, a couple of conversations with my 9 year old b/c a friend of hers found a few of her toys "lame." It bothered her and hurt her feelings more than she cared to admit. I explained to her that different people will see things different ways. And...they will react differently. A rose is a rose. An apple tree is an apple tree. Both are different and that's good. I can't imagine how "lame" the world would be if we were all the same lol!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Excellent illustration! I love all kinds of gardens. :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. There's a Yiddish saying: "If people all marched in the same direction, the world would tip over."

    I suppose the reason some think their way is the best way is defensiveness. People who are comfortable with their stance don't feel as compelled to fix others.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mirka, HAHA, love that saying! I'm going to memorize it so I can use it freely.

      Delete
  7. How dull a life, if we wall lived it just the same.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Great insight. We were so busy when our kids were school age and we also we're both teachers. I don't know how we had the energy. I guess that's why we have our children when we're young.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I hear you! This is a mentality I've been trying to remind myself EVERY time I critique a manuscript. I have ALL these great ideas about how they can improve their writing, but the truth is, it's their voice and I shouldn't mess with it. There's beauty in the variety of voices out there.

    ReplyDelete
  10. How boring a garden would be with only one type of plant in the same color or the same vegetable stretching out for miles (central valley, california).
    Roses with thorns and petunias with fragile blossoms.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I liked your apple tree quote. :) Life's definitely more fun with variety.

    ReplyDelete
  12. No, God didn't create a world of sameness. Love that! I have what is known today as a larger family. It's my husband, me, and our four kids. The kids are older now - our youngest is ten and the older three range from 15 to 20. People always ask me how I did it. I say the same as you: I really don't know.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Well said, Karen!

    I am a FIRM believer and diversity. God certainly has an amazing sense of humor, SO, why shouldn't we?

    Boring is right! How else would we learn about the intricacies, delicacies, and variations of life if we all thought the same. We are all individuals! Music, art, literature and history would never flourish if it wasn't for free thinkers! Look at all the artistic movements in time...

    The biggest of all. The Renaissance! Can you imagine not experiencing the greatest works of all time. Michael Angelo. Leonardo DaVinci. DaVinci in particular was a man way beyond his time. Look at all those amazing mechanical drawings of his.

    And what about 5th century Greece. Ancient Rome. Not to mention, one of my all time favorites, the French impressionists. Imagine not experiencing the greatest artists of light.

    I can go on and on and on. But, I won't. LOL.

    Karen, you always seem to bring out the passion in me with your posts...

    So happy life is treating you so well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Michael, Such wonderful examples! Sometimes I fear we are entering a new dark age with the demand of robot-like sameness in thought and behavior. The spirit and creativity of the renaissance is much needed in today's world.

      Delete
  14. Beautifully put! It is funny how most people think they are right and the ones differing from them are wrong. It almost seems like the word "different" is forgotten!

    ReplyDelete
  15. What an utterly boring world it would be if "everyone" was the same. "Different" is my world, "Different" is challenging and rewarding - to each "His Own Path" - and every path is different, yet some are similar. Many families today use "balance", as the world is changing - and along with the changes comes the "Balance", which your Son and daughter-In-Law and children have found their balance very well :) Cheers

    ReplyDelete
  16. Thanks for visiting my blog the other day! This is a wonderful post. Yes, I know many people who look at my husband and me and (even if they don't say it outloud) wonder why we aren't doing things the "right" way. It's frustrating, especially when you get overlooked as a functioning, contributing member of society because you aren't like everyone else. It's rather insulting. I"d much rather know diverse personalities. That's what makes the world a better place!

    Cheers! Oh, and I love the name of your blog. The idea of being an Expat has appealed to us for a loooong time!
    Jen

    ReplyDelete
  17. For sure diversity is what makes life exciting. I'm so lucky to have people in my life who are very different in their thinking and their backgrounds. I learn from them with each encounter. Congrats on those kids!

    ReplyDelete
  18. I agree with Talli - it's very hard not to compare yourself to other parents/families that seem to have it more together than you do. But I know deep down that my husband and I are doing pretty well balancing our busy-ness and our children's. Most importantly, we're happy!
    Thanks for this mindful post!

    ReplyDelete
  19. I was always being criticised when my kids were young - for taking them out in the rain, in the heat, etc. There's no single right way to live your life. There are some wrong ways, but most ways are right. ~Miriam

    ReplyDelete
  20. I think we should be open in learning how to do things in different ways, but at the same time, we shouldn't do something just because so-and-so does it that way. Diversity is what makes life worth living. It'd be boring if we were all the same.

    ReplyDelete
  21. If diversity does not exist, no one would probably feel that they're really "living". If that extends to books, and all the characters are the same, no one would ever bother to read it.

    Thank goodness we're all unique! :-) I'm all for diversity.

    Lovely post! I like it.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Loved the post. My kids have asked me that same question, how did we do it? I'm like you I can't explain how we did it, we just did it. I did tell them we just winged it and honestly I think we did too!

    ReplyDelete
  23. What a wonderful post about diversity! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    ReplyDelete
  24. We've had seasons of life that we look back upon and still aren't sure what kept us going and sane. How wonderful that we don't have to live cookie-cutter lives.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Nice post Karen! It is so true. If there is one thing I'm not fond of it is blandness.

    Granny used to say "there is more than one way to skin a rabbit!" I remember telling her that it's a CAT, not a rabbit. We'd start laughing because she had several cats (all Manx mousers that she loved dearly) and we ate a lot of rabbit.

    ReplyDelete
  26. I was just talking to my wife about this today. So many adults are so insecure in their views/beliefs that they feel the need to compel others to vocalize that they think/believe the same.

    ReplyDelete
  27. I love the way you said this. I don't know how we got to a place where one way is right and the other is wrong. Variety is the key to life. Just embrace the differences. Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  28. I love all your quotes at the top of the page. Very thought provoking. It's funny how people can be so quick to judge others. It's best if we just live and let live.

    ReplyDelete
  29. It would be extremely boring if everyone was the same.

    www.modernworld4.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  30. If everyone thought like me and did things the way I did, then I suppose that would make my ideas less interesting and original, wouldn't it?

    ReplyDelete
  31. Hi Karen .. thank goodness we're all different - if only people would think or look at the other side of the coin to see what others are experiencing ...

    Lovely post and so relevant in today's age ... your son and family sound like they're just doing all the right things and setting examples for your grandchildren ... enjoy your stay .. cheers Hilary

    ReplyDelete