The Artist’s Way Week 4: Environment is ideal, Ashley.

I am not a very good gardener (but I keep trying…). I tried planting flowers in a flower box once and promptly forgot about them. Needless to say, they died. I’ve even killed bamboo (don’t ask…). Clearly, I don’t know a lot about taking care of plants, but what I do know is that if you have a plant in the wrong environment no matter how you take care of it, nurture it, beg and plead with God—it won’t survive.

One of my favorite plays, A Raisin in the Sun, uses this concept through Mama’s plant, a symbol for her constant nurturing for her family. But just as the plant has outgrown its tiny pot, the Younger family and their dreams have outgrown their own environment. If the plant doesn’t get into the sunshine and is not replanted in a bigger place, it will die. Despite Mama’s care, it is in the wrong environment.

So why is it so surprising that people in the wrong environment begin to feel choked, underappreciated, trapped—as if they are dying? Environment is every bit as important to an individual as anything else, as the Youngers prove in A Raisin in the Sun and as each one of us begin to see as we examine our own lives.

In The Artist’s Way this week, we were encouraged to explore our ideal environment. As I dug into my past and explored my dreams, I was actually surprised by what I discovered. Well, I was surprised, but not on another level. My self-analysis led to an epiphany that made me realize that change was inevitable in my future. And change is not always a bad thing. Sometimes change is just what you need to thrive. Just as the Youngers needed to move into the new house, despite the risks, sometimes each one of us needs to take a risk just to feel more alive. I’m not talking about jumping out of airplanes (although some people do feel like that’s what they need to do). I’m talking about any kind of risk—it could be as simple as investing more time in a hobby or sending out some query letters to put yourself out into the world, or even talking with an open mind to someone you have always avoided.

Which reminds me again of the parable of the talents, which my preacher actually focused on this week at church. When we are blessed with certain gifts, or given certain things, we shouldn’t bury them in the ground. Burying something is a great way for something to become worthless. We need to take what we have been blessed with and take some risks to fulfill the callings of the Creator—only then will we be able to multiply our talents and fulfill our destiny.

And that starts with our environment—making sure we are in the right place.

My Ideal Environment:

Nestled in a cozy wooded area, my cabin is away from the world. The front yard, facing the east, is cleared so I can see the sun rise from my wrap around porch while the kids are still in their beds. They won’t sleep all day, but this is my time. There is a front porch swing that creaks when I sit in it, moaning from the use it sees daily. I can smell the freshly turned dirt form the garden. That may be basil starting to sprout. My cooking is getting better now that I have a kitchen—a real kitchen all my own.

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