In 1997, while observing my one-year mandatory National Youth Service Corps scheme in Garkawa, Plateau State, l discovered that the species of the vegetable called ‘sokoyokoto’ was planted as an ornamental plant in the compound I was going to live in. To convince them that it is edible became my word against theirs! I made a nice pot of soup from it one day; everybody ate with me and they stopped calling it a flower!
There are lessons to be learnt here; are you a ‘loner’ in your belief or idea? Do not be discouraged; forge ahead, spice your idea, cook it, serve it hot, people will eat it!
Mistletoes are plants that live as parasites on branches of trees. They are attached to their host tree or shrub by a structure called the haustorium through which they obtain water and nutrients from the host plant just like the placenta of the human foetus. No wonder they are called “afomo” in Yoruba. We can say that this teaches that life is relational; we need one another in a delicate balance of our strengths and weaknesses. No man is an island. This also confirms the saying that “nothing in nature lives for itself; rivers don’t drink their own water.” Trees don’t eat their own fruits. The sun doesn’t give heat for itself. Flowers don’t spread fragrance for themselves.” However, while you lean on others for support, do not be a parasite! Even if you throw stones at trees, they will still give us fruits! We can learn this quality of forgiveness from trees.
I have discussed 15 inspirational lessons from plants in two past editions, let us continue:
Bigger and more mature plants usually do not need as much care: While not all older plants are the same, most people who run plant nurseries will tell you the same thing for a medium to large-sized plant–it needs adequate sunlight and water once a week. We have this idea that we need to soak plants with water on a daily basis, but surprisingly enough, the older ones are pretty self-sufficient. There are friendships that you do not need to nurture often but will be there thriving regardless. Appreciate those “low-level care” people in your life.
Despite their massively valuable contributions to life on earth, plants do not ask for much in return and they have a very short simple list of things like sunlight, water, air and nutrients from the soil to survive. In reality, humans need only a relatively simple list of things to thrive as well but we sometimes over-complicate things by adding endless ‘essentials’ that we ‘must have’ in order to be happy or successful. How could you simplify your list? Do humans need to destroy all the vegetation around them in the process of building houses, exploring the environment for oil and all sorts of minerals whose profits are expended on scandalous luxury? Even with the abundant evidence from science that the prodigal exploitation of the resources of nature is harming the global environment, man is still waging a war on the environment through mindless exploitation even in the amazon forest and under the ocean (fracking). Plants are the first casualties in these onslaughts!
Windowsill plants need to be rotated: You cannot expect anything in your life to work out if there is not an even balance of attention. We tend to focus on one side of our lives, whether that is social or work; but just as plants do, if we do not address all sides of ourselves, our pieces start to crumble. The withering brown leaves on one side of windowsill plants say it all–rotate them so that all their parts can receive adequate sunlight. In like manner, give every aspect of your life even attention.
Getting cut back can actually make you stronger: Every experienced gardener knows that pruning certain plants is essential for them to reach their fullest potential. At first it may appear to be a step backward, but it will actually help the plant take many steps forward. When you face trials or setbacks in life, remember that they can lead to better things; a better you. Sometimes losing your job or having a difficult conversation is just the thing you need to wake up and take your life in a new and better direction.
Take time to nourish yourself: Without the proper balance of sunlight, nutrient-rich soil and water, a plant will suffer and may even stop growing. Similarly, for you to thrive, you need to make sure that you are getting the nourishment you need. This does not just mean eating fruits and vegetables; you need to spend time doing things that feed your soul: reading books, sleeping, listening to music, spending time with people you love and playing outside. If you are not making time for what you love, you are limiting your happiness.
Embrace the humble beginning: Even the mightiest trees that stand tallest do not ever feel intimidated to grow up from a humble beginning. The great, tall, sturdy and strong Oaks have once been little acorns! Beginnings are quite often a bit untidy where we all are little nuts; but it is the humble and messy beginning from which we evolve as illimitable superior spirits with the genuine desire to grow up in the face of overpowering might of the adversary.
Keep growing even if left alone with limited resources: Trees grow up solitarily even in the most deserted areas to live one gifted life to the fullest. They grow in the deepest down of the ocean, in the desert, on the highest peak of a mountain, and in extreme weather conditions.
Several occasions come in our life when we have to fight solitarily. Even the nearest and dearest ones turn their back, leaving us all alone. At times, we get the urge to quit and give up on our dreams. Trees tell us to have faith in ourselves and keep growing with whatever we have in our hands. It says, “nothing can defeat you if you don’t shrink at the time of trouble; instead, gather enthusiasm from miseries, your conscience will only approve of the positive conducts and all these will be reflected in your courageous self and you will keep growing.” Grow regardless of intense difficulties, roughest weather, hardest places and heartless circumstances. “Solitary trees, if they grow at all, grow strong.” –Winston Churchill
Do not let the extremity win over you: Trees have to fight against the external dangers and enemies throughout their lives: storms break their branches, hurt their roots and different parts, shred their leaves and sometimes push them to death. In spite of these vicissitudes, they grow older and glow riper; yet they remain green in heart, stunning in peace and wise in silence.
They are exposed to be badly hurt for their lifetime. They fight the drought, avalanches, diseases and thousands of tempests, wild storms and floods by standing still. They show a strengthening essence to live and teach us strategies to fight against the tyrants and win. There must be something special in never, never and never giving up. Give it a try and certainly you will experience a heavenly pleasure living in the world of your dreams. “Storms make trees take deeper roots.”