Rediscovering Meaningful Skills with Ray Bradbury’s Gardener

By: - May 9, 2023

Source link

“‘Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there. It doesn’t matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away. The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching, he said. The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime.’”

From Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, this quote encapsulates one of the novel’s main themes: The importance and beauty of being attentive to the present. In the modern era, we are faced with the constant temptation of immediate gratification. As I’m writing this, my phone buzzes with distractions, and my email looms in the background, demanding the attention that I must give my writing. It’s easier than ever to let these distractions consume us, to forget about the hands-on pieces of reality, and to ignore the meaningful moments in front of us. In this way, the world today offers us the ability to passively move through life.

The gardener is an antidote to all this. As any real-life gardener could tell us, gardening requires steady commitment over days, weeks, months, and even years. The gardener takes the time and attention to foster something delicate and precious. He takes the time to plant seeds and tend to growing life. He puts care and energy into pulling the weeds, watering the flowers, and vigilantly watching for pests. This gardening is not filled with immediate results, but it is full of meaningful results.

Even through those moments of hard work in the garden, the effort the gardener puts in is valuable. The personal touch and care that the gardener gives to the plants can be healing and gratifying. And those hours spent weeding are difficult yet rewarding because of what awaits when the flowers bloom. This garden is also something that the gardener leaves behind—a mark on the world that others can appreciate.

In contrast, the lawn-cutter whips through the yard to slice down the grass, doing the minimum to prevent overgrowth. He is above the grass, letting blades impersonally cut away what must go. The lawn-cutter is detached and doesn’t give the same level of personal touch and attention to his task as the gardener. And in turn, the lawn-cutter doesn’t leave behind the same meaningful mark that the gardener does.

In this way, it’s worth considering how we interact with the world. Do we live our whole lives as lawn-cutters, or do we seek out opportunities that let us be gardeners?

This question gets to the heart of what we prioritize in life. Do we let our attention be pulled away by ephemera, and are we bogged down by meaningless activities? Or are we attending to those moments and activities that let us leave something meaningful behind?

As an example, many of us—myself included—spend most of our time staring at screens. Whether it’s an office job, scrolling on social media, or texting a friend, so much of our lives is consumed by the virtual. Of course, there’s a time and a place for the tools of technology, but when it replaces the here and now, we begin to remove ourselves from the grounding of reality and pull away from the meaning of the gardener.

So, how do we cultivate the gardener inside all of us? As the literal activity, gardening may not be the most appealing skillset for everyone. It could be cooking, woodworking, sewing, writing, or another hobby that allows us to pay attention to life. Cultivating these real, practical skills lets us each leave our own mark on the world like Bradbury’s gardener.

These moments and activities aren’t flashy: In Fahrenheit 451, quiet moments stand in contrast to the story’s world of wildly fast cars and gigantic television screens. But when those cars and televisions turn off, what will remain of those whose lives were filled with them? Will those people have left something meaningful behind—“a child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made”?

Rather than cut the lawn, let’s garden.

Image credit: Flickr-Paul Cézanne, CC BY 2.0

ITO

  • RSS WND

    • Israel reportedly begins retaliatory strikes on Iran
      (FOX NEWS) – Israel reportedly struck a site in Iran early Friday in retaliation for Tehran firing a barrage of missiles and drones at Israel late Saturday. Fox News Digital has confirmed there have been explosions in Isfahan province where Natanz is located though it is not clear whether it has been hit. Natanz is… […]
    • 'Shut Up and Sing' still applies to emotional celebs
      When Laura Ingraham wrote her book "Shut Up and Sing" in 2003, the Left didn't read the book as much as overreact to the title. The title implied something important. While celebrities gain a "platform" they feel compelled to use, do their opinions reflect any expertise? Or is fame more important than logic? Celebrities often… […]
    • Iran says it could pursue nuclear weapons if Israel threatens atomic sites
      (ZEROHEDGE) – Iran's leadership has always strongly asserted that it is not pursuing the development of nuclear weapons, but instead has long sought a peaceful nuclear energy program. Various Ayatollahs over the decades have even declared the atomic bomb to be 'unIslamic' and against the teachings of the Koran. But that could change, Iran's military… […]
    • Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for EVs
      By H. Sterling Burnett Electric vehicles (EVs) have been all the rage among politicians since at least President Obama's first term in office, but they've never really caught on among the unwashed masses. Average folks with jobs, shopping to do, errands to run and kids to transport actually want their cars to deliver them to… […]
    • Google fires 28 employees involved in sit-in protest over $1.2 billion Israel contract
      (NEW YORK POST) – Google has fired 28 employees over their participation in a 10-hour sit-in at the search giant’s offices in New York and Sunnyvale, California, to protest the company’s business ties with the Israel government, The Post has learned. The pro-Palestinian staffers — who wore traditional Arab headscarves as they stormed and occupied… […]
    • Growing Latino support for border wall … and for Trump
      A new poll by Axios and Noticias Telemundo finds that 42% of Latino Americans support building a wall or fence along the entire U.S.-Mexico border. When pollsters asked the same question in December 2021, the number was 30%. That's a significant increase as the border crisis created by President Joe Biden's policies worsens. It's also… […]
    • College suspends professor 'energized' by Hamas attack on Israel
      (THE COLLEGE FIX) – A tenured professor is suspended throughout the rest of the semester after writing an essay celebrating Hamas’ attack on Israel. “McCarthyism is real. I’ve been relieved of teaching responsibilities,” Hobart and William Smith Colleges Professor Jodi Dean wrote Saturday on X. “Don’t stop talking about Palestine.” Get the hottest, most important… […]
    • O.J. Simpson is dead – Ron & Nicole are unavailable for comment
      As to the double murder case against O.J. Simpson, there was so much evidence that his guilt was obvious. This evidence included, but was not limited to, blood at the crime scene and on and in Simpson's white Bronco; a bloody glove found at the crime scene and a matching glove found at Simpson's home;… […]
    • How Greg Norman saved the Clinton presidency and other golf stories
      In their weekly podcast, Hollywood veteran Loy Edge and longtime WND columnist Jack Cashill skirt the everyday politics downstream and travel merrily upstream to the source of our extraordinary culture. The post How Greg Norman saved the Clinton presidency and other golf stories appeared first on WND.
    • The deadly price for Obama's ongoing foreign-policy legacy
      If a belligerent state launched 185 explosive drones, 36 cruise missiles and 110 surface-to-surface missiles from three fronts against civilian targets within the United States, would President Joe Biden call it a "win"? Would the president tell us that the best thing we can do now is show "restraint"? What if that same terror state's… […]
  • Enter My WorldView