Forget Your Limits
I realize that most of you around the country are dealing with cold temperatures but here in Arizona the season allows for winter gardening. That means I get to fill our cement container pots with plants other than the draught-tolerant varieties necessary during our crazy-hot summers.
It's great to see pops of color in small containers around the yard. I have this one large container, however, that I've referred to as cursed because nothing has thrived in it over the ten years we've been here. I've lugged heavy bags of soil across the yard. I've checked the water. I've done everything. And nada.
Then I came across a study conducted by a small team of Australian scientists who examined the ability of certain types of plants to "forget" what previously limited their growth. If plants had endured harsh conditions in the past, the lesser growth was a way of adapting to the environment. Once conditions change, some plants are able to reset and surpass their prior limits while others are not. (I'm oversimplifying for purposes of our discussion; if you're interested in the study, take a look at the links below.) (1)
Science aside, it got me thinking... and staring at the big cement pot in my back yard. On the day I planned to rip the small bougainvillea from its roots to replace it with my latest purchase from the Lowe's garden department, I noticed something. It was growing. This was almost annoying to the skeptical gardener in me who has witnessed failed attempts at growth before, but I found myself whispering to this little bougainvillea: Forget your limits.
Would Forgetting Be Good?
I'm not offering forget your limits as a cute platitude. "Forgetting" might not be possible or even advisable. To forget past failures or those times when you bumped up against limits, would be to cheat yourself of all you extracted from that experience. Further, you wouldn't be able to function very well without factoring in limits of time, energy, ability or available resources.
What's problematic isn't that you have limits; it's if you allow past limits to unnecessarily stunt your growth.
Growing might turn out to be surpassing what limited you before or, adapting and flourishing in unexpected ways - how you'll grow is yet to be seen.
What Limited You Before
Back to my bougainvillea... I won't hinge my hopes and plans for the year on whether or not the plant in the big cement pot finally thrives, though it would be really something if it grows beyond my past limited expectations.
This Week's Call To Action:
- What have you learned from how you adapted to limits in the past?
- What limit now seems unnecessary, self-imposed, or no longer relevant?
As you engage with the new year, forget the limits that are no longer needed. Open to possibility and watch with wonder as you detect new growth, within you and in your life.
See you in the current,
(1) The study conducted by a research team at Australian National University is entitled "Reconsidering plant memory: Intersections between stress recovery, RNA turnover, and epigenetics." You can find it here: Science Advances, DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1501340
And here are two articles that discuss this study:
New Scientist: "Plants have evolved forgetfulness to wipe out memory of stress," by Anil Ananthaswamy
Mother Nature Network: "Plants form memories and can even be forgetful" by Bryan Nelson