Therapist's Note: A common response I receive when I tell people what I do for a living is: "Oh gosh, isn't it awful listening to people's problems all day long?" I always respond, "Actually, that's not at all what I do; I hear the most amazing things every day, I witness incredible resilience and growth, it's pretty awesome." Yes, clients come to counseling having experienced messy, heart-breaking things in their lives. But the mess ends up fertilizing some incredibly beautiful, tender blooms.
The pungent aroma.
The sting of grit clinging to skin.
The creepy, crawling things writhing and wrestling.
I've been spending plenty of time in the garden recently: preparing the beds, planting the seeds. In my interactions with the dirt, I found myself pondering the contradictions within it.
On the one hand: discomfort and disgust; mess and chaos.
On the other hand: soft, soothing warmth; a satisfying, soulful connection to life-giving, life-sustaining earth.
There are moments in life like dirt.
When everything becomes pungent.
And the creepy, crawling things surface..
And the grit clings to every crevice of our wrinkled souls.
Our first instinct in these messy moments may to recoil in repulsion, eagerly searching for a clean sink to wash our hands of it all. Yet...these are the rich, fertile moments that enable us to plant something new. If we can allow hope to shelter us like a well-worn sunhat, if we can place trust as a cushion beneath our aching knees, we can stay there beside the soil, tending to what is to come.
If you find yourself in a dirt-like moment:
Let your hands turn the warm, damp earth.
Wipe the sweat from your brow with your dusty forearm that feels like sandpaper.
You can sit back with a glass of cold lemonade--water beading on the smooth surface, ice chiming. You can survey the work you have done with a sense of satisfaction. You can take a long hot shower, sighing in relief as your skin feels new again, as the water eases your aching muscles.
Just when you are starting to doubt (or perhaps just when you've forgotten to look for it), a tender green shoot will rise from the pungent, gritty, creepy-crawly, warm, soothing, life-giving dirt.
And you will rise along with it.
For further reflection: What is one thing that grew out of a dirt-like moment in your past? If you were to imagine that one thing as a plant, tree, or flower, what would it look like?
Here you will find metaphors, images, reflections, and inspiration on the change process. Psychotherapy intersects with creativity, nature, and spirituality on these pages. You can start anywhere you'd like. You'll find a note on my thoughts as a therapist as well as a prompt for your own reflection at the beginning and end of each entry.
I'm a licensed therapist in private practice in Indianapolis who provides counseling to individuals and couples, particularly around issues of anxiety, adjustment, and relationship wellness.