It’s spring in California. The Magnolia tree down the street has buds on it. The crocuses and tulips have pushed up through the ground. Seed packets and gardening tools are now on the shelves in the supermarket and I notice how my heart picks up when I see the display. I stop and read a few of the tomato seed packets, amazed by the diversity of colors and shapes. The pumpkin seeds continue to intrigue me in spite of the fact that even when my back was strong enough to garden I never had success with pumpkins. I remember planting every spring. I remember having a cook-book titled, “Too Much Zucchini” and baking zucchini bread. Often, as I roll my cart past the display, I think about the man who, forty years ago, taught me the lesson I now need to remember.
The man was a new student at the “Yoga For Older Adults” class I taught at the local junior college. He was older than most participants, and was walking with the aid of forearm crutches. When I greeted him he said, “My friend told me this was a good class so I thought I’d try it out.” When the class was over, I checked with him as he was getting ready to leave. He said “You’re a very good teacher. I enjoyed the class but it’s too hard for me so I won’t come back. Thank you, though.”
I watched him walk on his crutches to the door. He turned around, looked at me and smiled. Then he said, “I just wanted to tell you that I was a member of the 1920 U.S. Olympic rowing team. “
At that moment, I thought, “This is going to be an important lesson.” These days, when I find myself wistful about seed displays, I remember that aging athlete of long ago and I say to myself, “I used to have a really good garden.” I love it that my mind knows where to look to find what it needs to balance itself when it feels wobbly.